Review: Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West

cvr_reconciliation-islam-democracy-and-the-west-by-benazir-bhuttoReconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, by Benazir Bhutto

MY RATING: 3/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Purchased Book, 2016 Library Thing Santa Thing

RELATED MOVIE(S): Bhutto (2008) Trailer (IMDB)

REVIEW: “I return to Pakistan after eight years abroad on October 18, 2007, and was greeted in Karachi by crowds estimated by Sindhi press and party officials to be up to three million people. It was a moment I have dreamt of for so many years. I was overwhelmed by emotion as I touched the land of my birth and saw the love of the people. It was a love I returned with all my heart and soul.  Politics started out as a duty for me. Over the years of pain, suffering, sacrifice, and separation, of young men and women tortured and killed, it had become an all-consuming passion” (218). An equal level of commitment resulted in “Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West,” becoming the last book written by the first-ever, female prime minister of a Muslim country; her name was Benazir Bhutto.

Reconciliation” was divided into six chapters with clearly defined elements: Islam’s saga, democratic ideals, Pakistan’s internal strife and dichotomous relations with the United States (who she repeatedly asserted as a nation pursuing arbitrary democracy), “clash of civilizations”, the need for a changed vocabulary, and fear of her nation being disintegrated from within. She successfully argued that “to understand Pakistani politics, an understanding of Pakistan’s provinces and their characteristics is necessary” (158). Over time, the reader could recognize that the author became stuck in a political quagmire; and, despite the fact that Bhutto needed the USA, she seemed to dedicate a good portion of her book to rant against her greatest ally.

Overall, I recognized that “Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West,” served as a plea for dialogue, understanding, change, help and recognition. Unfortunately, this book’s preachy and academic approach caused me to skim some of the material. Sometimes I felt like the author was speaking down to the reader; yet, fragments reflected how she wrote so beautifully, so passionately, that you could visualize where she was and feel what Bhutto felt in that moment. It set my expectations for the rest of the piece. Ultimately, the writings could not maintain a significant quantity of that communication style to reflect a higher star rating.

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7 thoughts on “Review: Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West

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  4. Ah great review- I am picking up that this book had a minor case of anti-American bias, which is a shame, because I find when people get bogged down with this it really detracts from what they’re trying to say- which often has nothing to do with the US (and I say this as someone who’s not American)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes…you are quite intuitive. The “minor case of anti-American bias” perplexed me, given that she depended on the USA for help. I think that, given the religio-political and geo-political dynamics of the time, she found herself in an unescapable quagmire. He book seemed like a plea for help while accusing America of arbitrary democracy. While she asserted that point and sufficiently supported it, she was also practicing the same thing. She had to do so, because of how the Taliban came into play. It was my understanding that the group started off as a somewhat helpful organization, and she pretty much had to do a “deal with the devil” in order to maintain peace and resources for so many people in her country who had sacrificed so much (like she did). I would have thought that she would have recognized that, perhaps, both governments were doing the same thing, but on a different scale. Unfortunately, the Taliban severely changed its course and mission…leading us to what they are today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that’s very strange. I cannot understand why she would have that perspective- to go on a bit of a tangent, it reminds me of the attitudes people simultaneously had towards America over Libya and Syria in the last few years- on the one hand they’re to blame for intervening and on the other they’re blamed for not intervening. I can of course understand why she would be aggrieved about the US helping the Taliban- but from what you’re saying, it sounds like she played her own part in this. Like you said, she could have recognised that both governments played a part in this.

        Liked by 1 person

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