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Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,314 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October 2007, after eight years of exile, hopeful that she could be a catalyst for change. Upon a tumultuous reception, she survived a suicide-bomb attack that killed nearly two hundred of her countrymen. But she continued to forge ahead, with more courage and conviction than ever, since she knew that time was running out—for the futu ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 12th 2008 by Harper (first published 2008)
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Apr 08, 2008 Penny rated it really liked it
Anyone who knew I was reading Reconciliation, knew that this book was a tough read for me. First, I rarely read works of non-fiction, and second, I didn't know much about the Islamic world/history, though I was vastly curious. But there was something about Benazir Bhutto that really drew me in. After she was killed, I wanted to know more about her--this strong female figure, in a male dominated Muslim world.

I may not agree with everything she said but this book has done a few things for me:

1. I
Jun 24, 2009 lp rated it it was ok
I picked up this book thinking that Benazir Bhutto was going to be my hero but I was very disappointed. I know she is heroic and was a martyr for her cause -- Islamic Democracy -- and I wanted to know more about that. About how she promoted women and freedom and voice to the people of Pakistan. I loved to hear about her optimism about how Islam is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists who stray from the real messages of the Quran. That message was pounded into my brain at my l ...more
Apr 19, 2008 Tracy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Tracy by: the Daily Show with Jon Stewart
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 11, 2008 Bob added it
I really wanted to like this book more than I did.

Unfortunately, the author spends most of chapter 2 quoting passages from the Quran in an attempt to prove that Islam is not a violent or mysogynist religion. Like trying to read the Bible, this just made my eyes glaze over (MEGO).

Now I don't pretend to know a lot about Islam. But when her interpretation of the evidence is along the lines of "a close reading shows that it does not advocate violence against people of the book, only those who reject
Jul 08, 2013 Rachel rated it it was ok
I picked up this book thinking "Yeah! A Muslim woman's perspective on Islamic culture and the West. And she was even prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. She ought to have a ton of insights." Sadly, my enthusiasm was short-lived. This book had many interesting parts, but ultimately ended up being unpersuasive and tedious for a few reasons.

First of all, I am skeptical of anyone who gives one verse of a holy scripture, explains how it supports their point of view and moves on withou
Mehwish Mughal
I read Benazir Bhutto's daughter of the East first, which was published in 1989. The Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West was published in 2008. An approximate 19 years gap between the two books. Daughter of the East voiced the ideas in the capacity of a daughter whereas this book in comparison was written by a transformed intellectual visionary.

This book is divided into 6 chapters. The first chapter deals with Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan from her political exile and the failed
May 06, 2009 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics
I wasn't sure what to make of this book the first time I looked at it. For lack of a better term, I thought of it as an idealistic rant, albeit truly heroic and well written. The problem was that I had already read The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel Huntington and frankly I thought he was pretty much correct. Even if he wasn't, I had no doubt that dippy Islamist control freaks were set on molding the relatively ignorant masses to their way of thinking. As a matter of fact, that is one view I h ...more
Rebekka Steg
May 03, 2012 Rebekka Steg rated it really liked it
I felt that Reconciliation could've/should've been divided into at least 2, maybe even 3 separate books. A huge chunk in the middle deals with Pakistan's history and seems almost autobiographical, since the author and her family has played a huge role therein. Though interesting on it's own, it's hard to see the relevance and the connections to the rest of the book, dealing with other Muslim democracies and how to reconcile the East and the West. Also, I have no doubt that the way she portrays P ...more
Jun 23, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing
This book is a "must read" for all who wish to become more informed on the issues facing the world regarding differences between Islam and the western world.

Ms. Bhutto explains in a most articulate and intelligent fashion why she believes that Islam and democracy are compatible. Her background as Prime Minister, her Harvard education, and her natural ability to express complex philosophies in a manner which can be understood by almost everyone, serve her well as she put forth reason after reason
Sep 15, 2015 Josh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-this, islam
The bravery and intellectual strength of Benazir Bhutto, martyred two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan, combine to create a powerful and compelling book about the promise of democracy in the Islamic world.

Bhutto finished the book just before she was murdered. Her gospel message of reconciliation, which is both morally forceful and intellectually strong, is the very message her murderers would like to have silenced in 2007. However, events on the world stage since 2007 have proven that her message
May 30, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those seeking an intro to Islam, democracy, and the west -- in theory and modern practice
Bhutto presents arguments from the Quran favoring the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and she identifies the main center of gravity against terrorism as an intra-Muslim struggle for the future of Islam.

She calls on Western countries to support Muslim progressive reformers, and stop supporting governments which oppress and restrict these Muslim progressive reformers.

Main drawback (why I gave it only 3 stars) is that it is unevenly written. For example, it includes chatty, hyper-detailed, i
Scotty Cameron
Feb 17, 2015 Scotty Cameron rated it really liked it
I enjoyed that the author took the time to explain cultural differences between Christians and Muslims. Then she put into context the geopolitical situations that are causing the troubles of today.

A very educational read from a unique point of view. Very recommended.

Scotty Cameron
Kristin Brown
Apr 20, 2008 Kristin Brown rated it it was amazing
Non-extremist views of Islam and how f-up the US is politically.
Cindy Leighton
Benazir Bhutto finished this book just months before her assassination. She fights against the "clashers" who insist Islam and democracy can not coexist and predict no end to the fight between Islam and the West. In contrast Bhutto insists "extremism thrived under dictatorship and is fueled by poverty, ignorance and hopelessness." She quotes extensively from the Quran to show the beauty and acceptance of diversity put forth in the Quran.

I can't begin to do this book justice in a short review -
Jul 10, 2014 Lakshana rated it really liked it
For the larger part, this is one fine book. The writing is clear, crisp and eloquent. I wish translated copies would be made readily available for dissemination in the Islamic world, where I think it can have the most powerful effect.

Particularly noteworthy in the text is Ms Bhutto's 1) call for mutual understanding, 2)refutation of Huntington's doom & gloom thesis
and 3)(my favourite, peppered throughout)steadfast belief in the self determination of the Muslim world(a stark and much needed
Julie H.
Jun 14, 2009 Julie H. rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
What an interesting book! While I've categorized it as a biography, it's really much more of an extended position paper from Bhutto to the world. In it, she wishes to make three main points. Those points are that: (1) while there is considerable diversity within Islam (as is true for any of the "big three" monotheistic faiths), in recent years it has been hijacked in a manner of speaking to achieve particular anti-Western political ends; (2) that Islam and democracy, the West, and modernity (esp ...more
Jan 23, 2010 Sushila rated it really liked it
This book is divided into six chapters that are quite distinct. It's almost like reading six separate well-written articles. The first half of the book is fantastic. My favorite parts are when Bhutto analyzes Islam and the Koran and relates it to modern life. She is incredibly knowledgeable and it's refreshing to hear a modern person living in the outside world, as opposed to some hermetic cleric, offer her interpretations. The parts where Bhutto relates a brief history of Islamic nations, inclu ...more
Aug 09, 2011 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Bhutto is a woman whose words and story make me love her. In this book she writes clearly but often very academically, dryly, and repetitively about what is important to her. She talks about what Islam means to her, and her interpretation is liberal and beautiful. Islam, in her understanding, means to submit to Allah. It's your quintessential monotheistic religion. However, interpretation of the faith and of its holy book varies wildly. Bhutto believes that Islam calls for peace, for tolerance o ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Natasha rated it really liked it
best quotes:

"...and even if the West bears responsibility for the lack of democratic political development in the Islamic world, at some point responsibility and accountability rest with us. If democracy is to take hold among the billion Muslims on this planet, the movement must come from our people standing up to the forces of extremism, fanaticism, and authoritarianism within our own societies."

"We need a powerful, heavily networked international group aggregating activist women's groups throu
Feb 19, 2010 Kim rated it it was ok
Biggest revelation was that if Bhutto represents the 'moderate' view in the Islamic world, then we really do have a lot to fear. She does not place all the blame at the feet of the West but she repeatedly states that there is plenty of blame to go around, and she seems to spend more time talking about how the West has failed in its approach to the Islamic world than how the Islamic world had failed itself. It is nice to hear a non-American point of view, and whether all her truths are truths or ...more
Aug 18, 2015 Ross rated it liked it
As a book - it follows a similar formula to law journal articles, and flowed quite logically with quite a strong thesis: that Islam and democracy are compatible. On the thesis, the book certainly delivers.

The down sides: there were some portions of the book that were a bit long-winded (the portion on Pakistan's history, for example), but not completely unexpected; much of the text repeated (apologies for not having a concrete example, but it's there).

That said, it's a good book to read if you kn
Feb 10, 2014 Tracy rated it liked it
I must admit I was very ignorant of Pakistani politics before reading this book. I didn't even know who Benazir Bhutto was or of her lineage. I definitely learned a lot from this book about the history of Pakistani politics and the Bhutto family's part in it. I found her arguments in support of Islam being a religion that supports peace, equality and democracy compelling, but unfortunately it seems this interpretation is not the one that those governing most Muslim states are taking from the Kor ...more
Marwa Shafique
Jun 03, 2016 Marwa Shafique rated it liked it
A great and insightful book on how Islam and democracy are corelated and how much democracy is needed to flourish as a country. At a few places I did feel as if I was reading my 10th grade History book, and I probably would've enjoyed it more had I had a deep interest in politics and things alike. Nonetheless, I don't regret picking it up.
Jul 21, 2009 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A must-read for those who are open to understanding the history and challenges faced by Islamic nations . Benazir gave her life to forge democracy and equality in Pakistan. She uses the Koran to illustrate that democracy and Islam fit perfectly together, and that Islam is at its roots an accepting and pluralistic faith.
Nov 22, 2015 Rakesh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
This book by late Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, is firm defense of moderate Islam, centered around Pakistan's push, or lack there of, towards a democratic society. The main theme of the book runs around debating the place of democracy in an Islamic society, often quoting Quranic verses and many moderate interpretations to argue compatibility between Islamic values and democratic institutions. After rejecting the "clash of civilizations" theory between the west and the muslim ...more
Abdullah Bakhashwain
هذا الكتاب هو ترجمة لكتاب المؤلفة باللغة الانجليزية. بمعنى انها كانت تخاطب العقل الغربي اكثر من توجهها للقارئ العربي . الكتاب من منشورات شركة المطبوعات في بيروت ويقع في صفحة ويتوزع على ستة فصول ومقدمة وخاتمة الفصول الستة هي :
طريق العودة
المعركة داخل الاسلام الديمقراطية ضد الدكتاتورية والحداثة والتطرف
الاسلام والديمقراطية التاريخ والتجربة
قضية باكستان
هل صدام الحضارات امر حتمي ؟
كلمة خاتمة.
يبدو ان الكتاب ظهر بعد اغتيال المؤلفة او ربما بعد الترجمة العربية لان كلمة الختام كانها تأبين من زوجها واب
Erika RS
Feb 27, 2016 Erika RS rated it liked it
In the end, this is kind of a two star book that gets an extra star because it contains a first hand account of the some of Pakistan's struggles with democracy.

In this book Bhutto -- who was assassinated not long after she returned to Pakistan and shortly after the book was completed -- tries to do many things. She gives an Quranic exegesis of why Islam and democracy are compatible despite the claims of extremists, she shares a personal account of her role in Pakistan's struggle for democracy, s
Jul 16, 2016 Ev rated it really liked it
Phenomenal, insightful and bittersweet, given its author's untimely end. Benazir Bhutto easily weaves an objective historical narrative (no easy feat) of the E-W relationship, which yields idealistic and entirely pragmatic solutions. I highly recommend the book.

Bhutto advocates for increased and meaningful dialogue between cultures, which I totally agree with. But I personally think we need a different medium: less institutions in the world akin the the UN or Peace Corps, and more direct, long-t
Anil Hembrom
Mar 08, 2016 Anil Hembrom rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really really wanted to read this book. But after going through few chapters, I found it was just a book on Islam bashing the West for their oppressive policy towards the Islamic states. I skipped chapters because it was getting annoying, reading the same thing over and over again.

I am not much aware with the Islamic history but this book says that democracy was the child of Islam. She argued that the religion and politics be kept apart for the success of any democratic institution. Democracy
Jun 12, 2015 Neil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: econ-and-pol
A vital must read, for a very interesting perspective on something that seems to have dominated foreign and security policy since 9/11. This book is fascinating in showing the long development of the wider causes of extremism: the fact colonial empires aren't built with safe dismantling in mind, the grubby deals with dictators as anti-communist allies during the Cold War, and the internal power games within Muslim states themselves. These latter were something of a revelation, as I hadn't really ...more
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Benazir Bhutto was a Pakistani politician who chaired the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), a centre-left political party in Pakistan. Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state, having twice been Prime Minister of Pakistan (1988–1990; 1993–1996). She was Pakistan's first and to date only female prime minister.

Bhutto was the eldest child of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a P
More about Benazir Bhutto...

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