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Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  240 ratings  ·  44 reviews
In Tinderbox: The Past and Future of Pakistan, acclaimed author and journalist M. J. Akbar traces the search for a “Muslim space” that began in the eighteenth century, and the events, people, circumstances, and mind-set that culminated in a fractured India in 1947. But why is Pakistan in danger of becoming a “jelly state,” a country that constantly quivers on the edge ofin ...more
ebook, 400 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2011)
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Ateeq Ahmad
I am not a league-y . My mother's family is very congressi so we buy a lot of the reasoning that goes behind Mr. Akbar's thesis of how Pakistan was formed. A lot of this book is well written research until we get to Pakistan's independence. Then the narrative breaks down and the author does not seem to have good sources to draw upon. The period after Pakistan's independence looks like it is patched together from newspaper clippings, mostly.

Nevertheless a good read on how Pakistan has gone a bit
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Asad Khan
An insightful and captivating account of South-Asian History.
Ashwin
Any book, that traces the idea of Pakistan, from its most nebulous beginnings to the present day, from Aurangzeb to Zardari and Kayani, cannot be this short. MJ Akbar's intent is noble, but the chapters of Pakistan's troubled history require more detailed and nuanced treatment. The book gathers pace as it progresses and soon the year changes with each page. This speed is fatiguing and does not do any justice to the complexity of the region.


Pakistan, to me has always been a nebulous entity. Havin
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Aniket Sharma
Traces the idea of Pakistan. Starts with the fall of Mughal empire, and covers the contemporary history of Pakistan - which happens to be one of deceit, fraud and conspiracies at a humongous scale - in some detail. A fascinating account of a toxic jelly state, founded on a weak idea whose foundation was the artificial, whipped up fear of 'Islam in Danger'. Amusing account, would have been funny were it not so tragic as we'll at the same time.
Tariq Mahmood
Excellent history of Pakistan written by an Indian Muslim. One by his own admission 'chose' not to migrate to the land of the pure. Very current, must read. Talks about the idea of Pakistan and the Pakistani of today. Which one does the average Pakistani subscribe to, one of the father Jinnah or the godfather Maudaudi? Inclusive or exclusive? A Pakistan of Rahet Fateh Ali Khan and Aisam ul-Haq Qureshi or the one of Ajmal Kasab and Qadri? Liberal or conservative? It's a question every Pakistani n ...more
Kapil Joshi
Though it is tough to capture an entire history in a few pages, the author, through his lucid narration, has done well in exploring a country which has always been an enigma of sorts. Credit must be given to the author for not wavering from the underlying theme of identity crisis, its genesis and nurturance with seamless past and present connectivity though the detailing reduces considerably as we progress towards the end of the book, particularly the post-independence years. But then there is o ...more
Rajendra Dave
In late seventies of the last century, "The Sunday" introduced me to Asterix and Obelix the Gauls and Mr. M. J. Akbar the journalist. They have remained my favourites ever since, though I must confess that my reading has been confined to newspaper columns by Mr. Akbar. So I started reading the book with great anticipation and I was not disappointed.

What strikes one most is Mr. Akbar's objectivity. Though it's clear where his sympathies are, he is careful to present both sides of any argument. T
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Ravi
MJ Akbar wrote a balanced account of medieval Indian history under Muslim rule, Indian independence movement and the events that lead to the partition of India, and post partition history of Pakistan. What made it interesting to me is that Akbar is an Indian Muslim who also believes in a secular democratic form of government.

Akbar narrates a more honest account of history, by including instances of communal strife and of temple destruction by Muslim rulers, compared to the official version serve
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Aparna Singh
It is understandable that journalist M.J.Akbar wants to first give the reader an understanding of Pakistan's past before he gets to its possible futures - for after all, this is a country with a difficult past that continues to impact on its future. Yet, the first half of the book feels a little too much like a history textbook - much of it is known, although there is probably more analysis of key Muslim players on the pre-independence scene than most history books give us. In particular, I foun ...more
Madeeha Maqbool
My copy of this copy is heavily annotated and post-it(ed). I LOVED it. Akbar has a way with words that makes him unlike any other political writer. And he is really really funny - something I appreciate over anything else. Everybody should read this book; apart from being well-informed, the entertainment value is excellent. The critique of the military and the Jamaat-i-Islami are especially giggle-inducing.
Rajmr64
This work by M J Akbar goes on to demonstrate that we do have scholars in India who are well informed of the intricacies that go on to make Pakistan on of those countries in the world which everyone loves to hate....The complexities of the Pakistani society, the angst of partition, the ursurping of the State by theocrats have all been very well analysed in this seminal work. If the future of Pakistan is going to roll out as per the predictions of the author, we are in for serious trouble in Indi ...more
Hrishikesh
One of the best books that I've read so far. M. J. Akbar provides a very deep analysis of the ideological ethos that lead to the creation of Pakistan. The book can be divided into 3 broad points - the origins of Pakistan, the current state (and the way this has been attained), and the future.

The historical origins of Pakistan are traced back to the decline of the Mughal empire. This analysis has provided an useful understanding into what "minority"-ism is all about. The way the political require
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Aarish Khan
The basic argument of the book is that the underlying problem of Pakistan that has resulted in its gradual drift toward extremism and militancy is its creation in the name of Islam. In other words, Pakistan’s extremism and militancy problem is in its DNA. In author’s view, the use of religion for the creation of Pakistan and then for ruling it by its mostly secular elite was bound to have the inevitable consequence of religious intolerance and hatred. I’ll come to a discussion on this a bit late ...more
Abhinav Agarwal
"One good section, two okay parts, and several instances of selective interpretations."

Short review: MJ Akbar displays an impressive grasp of history, that blends into a fast-paced account of world events that intersect with the march of the Indian subcontinent to freedom, and partition. This is however marred, repeatedly so, by the jarring interjection of incongruous paragraphs that seem to exist for little reason other than to serve as the display of an elegant train of thought's ugly derailme
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Harisha Vellanki
No doubt, the book is well structured..But it is more an academic exercise of History than the current social and cultural rulings of Pakistan. I really got bored reading the whole history of partition again as there are enough of books on it already! Though the book describes itself as "The past and future of Pakistan", 80% of the book just deals with the past..The present social, political and economic systems of Pak are totally neglected. I wonder why it took 2011 for MJ Akbar to write someth ...more
Raghu
This book is an investigation into the idea and creation of Pakistan as a separate state from India for Indian Muslims. The author looks into the historical roots of this idea and what it holds for Pakistan's future.
M.J.Akbar, the author, identifies a 'theory of distance' amongst the Muslim elite in India in the 18th century onwards. This theory holds that Hindus and Muslims are different people and that Muslim interests and way of life in India can only be secured by Muslims living as a separa
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Yugaljoshi
It is a brilliant book discovering the history of Pakistan as we see it today, and way beyond the 1947 partition of India into two countries. It also blasts the myth of "hindu muslim" living in peace romanticism, and highlights how and why Pakistan came into existence. The book has lots of facts and data that is precious. Moreover, the book ends with a poignant and realistic assessment that Pakistant is at a point of no recovery. The book does not get into utopian solutions to Pakistant's largel ...more
Mahin
Another Desi pseudo-intellectual. Too much interpretation involved. Indo-Pak history is essentially fiction in some ways. This man is obsessed with presenting Indian Muslims as the antithesis to Pakistani Muslims(I have noticed many Indian Muslims purposely doing this to save their own backs in a communal Indian state), as if there is no extremism within the Indian Muslim community. Enjoyable read though!
Pērtińācious Frāńĸ
an excellent read ,
precisely if you want to know what went wrong, since when ,and how far it's ripples have extended.
the author is an Indian national which gives a Pakistani reader- as yours truly, a glance at the other side of the face of history. To know something thoroughly, you need to have a holistic perspective of things; which is why I picked up the book in the first place.From notions such as the worn-out cliche' of the "two-nation theory" ,misinterpretation of the ideology of Pakistan,
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Prasan Kaikini
An excellent, well-researched description of how Pakistan came into being. The differences in thinking between the westernized Muslim elite, the Muslim religious leaders is very interesting. I particularly liked the fact that Akbar starts before the official fall of the Mughal empire in 1858. He description of how the loss of power and privilege affected the Muslim intelligentsia is impressive.

The part after the 1950's is not well put-together, with lots of repetitions, etc. And there is really
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Antu Xie
It was a decent history book, up until the very end chapters. If there were any final lessons to be learned, it's that too much distrust from one group towards another can often lead to the very schism and discrimination that both parties want to avoid.
Ashish
Provides interesting insights into the background story behind the conception of the Pakistan. The author points to the ideological compromises made by Pakistan's founders as a means to their ends as one of the main reasons for where Pakistan is today...
Masen Production
“I was unaware of the realities that surrounded the Hindu Muslim divide in the pre Independent India. This book unveils the lineage & mentality of tenants of both the religions. Its a very easy to follow & understand why the small neighboring rift has developed into an abyss of complications today. It traces the myths, facts in a very logical fashion to give one the insight of what has Made Pakistan today an Islamist nation.

Well researched book & a good read. At times it gets a littl
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Jim Rimmer
An in depth survey of the history which led to the creation of two nations and the implications which have subsequently developed. Daunting in more ways than one. The personalities add an extra dimension and complexity to the tale, particularly those who will be less known to most western readers.

Though this was an informative and, at times, enthralling read I have to admit that I also found it a little clunky ie, repetition, time leaps, detail imbalance.

Requires some previous knowledge of regio
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Rohit Raj
A very well description of Pakistan's creation and the reason behind its present chaotic state....
Pradeep Kant
Erudite,researched -must read!!
Oli Mukherji
Was a nice summation of a lot of books and work .Does some digging into the history of India and Pakistan but doesn't give nay new insights into the problems that are already well defined .Jinnah's description is nice but I would refer to Jinnah of Pakistan by Stanley Wolpert for a better read.All in all does agood job of summing up a lot of details spanning a lot of other author's and historians' works and MJ Akbar's very illustrious experiences.
Rahul Vaidya
This book presents a well researched and balanced analysis of the Pakistan psyche, how it came into being and why it came into being. It also provides an insight into how powerful people have manipulated muslim common man for decades and they are continuing to do so.

A must read for those who want to understand Pakistan and for those wondering why India and Pakistan managed to take these very different paths.
Anshee
A very interesting (if a little bit biased possibly) account on the decades before 1947, when Muslim and Indian communities grew more and more apart and the idea of a separate Muslim state was formed. The book also provides some historic insight into the process that led to the creation of two countries where official status is so different: India being strongly secular, Pakistan strongly theocratic.
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Mobashar Jawed "M.J." Akbar (born 11 January 1951) is a leading Indian journalist and author. He was the Editorial Director of India Today, India's leading weekly English news magazine published by the Living Media group till his resignation in October 2012. He also had an additional responsibility of overseeing the media conglomerate's English news channel, Headlines Today.
He launched "The Sunday
...more
More about M.J. Akbar...
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“Lord Charles Canning, the last Governor-General and first viceroy of India (the transition from East India Company rule to the British Crown took place during his turbulent tenure, 1856–62) wrote candidly to Vernon Smith, president of the Board of Control, on 21 November 1857, at the height of the ‘mutiny’: ‘As we must rule 150 million of people by a handful [of] Englishmen, let us do it in a manner best calculated to leave them divided (as in religion and national feeling they already are) and to inspire them with the greatest possible awe of our power and with the least possible suspicion of our motives’.” 0 likes
“An economically devastated Bengal became too weak to fight back the famine of 1769–70; it is estimated that 10 million, out of a population of 30 million, died. ‘In fact, British control of India started with a famine in Bengal in 1770 and ended in a famine – again in Bengal – in 1943. Working in the midst of the terrible 1877 famine that he estimated had cost another 10 million lives, Cornelius Walford calculated that in the 120 years of British rule there had been thirty-four famines in India, compared with only seventeen recorded famines in the entire previous two millennia,’ writes Robins. The Mughal response to famine had been good governance: embargo on food export, anti-speculation regulation, tax relief and free kitchens. If any merchant short-changed a peasant during a famine, the punishment was an equivalent weight in flesh from his body. That kept hoarding down.” 0 likes
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