Magnificent Delusions

Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding

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Regular Price $15.99 CAD

Regular Price $11.99

Regular Price $15.99 CAD

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On Sale

Nov 5, 2013

Page Count

432 Pages




The relationship between America and Pakistan is based on mutual incomprehension and always has been. Pakistan — to American eyes — has gone from being a quirky irrelevance, to a stabilizing friend, to an essential military ally, to a seedbed of terror. America — to Pakistani eyes — has been a guarantee of security, a coldly distant scold, an enthusiastic military enabler, and is now a threat to national security and a source of humiliation.

The countries are not merely at odds. Each believes it can play the other — with sometimes absurd, sometimes tragic, results. The conventional narrative about the war in Afghanistan, for instance, has revolved around the Soviet invasion in 1979. But President Jimmy Carter signed the first authorization to help the Pakistani-backed mujahedeen covertly on July 3 — almost six months before the Soviets invaded. Americans were told, and like to believe, that what followed was Charlie Wilson’s war of Afghani liberation, with which they remain embroiled to this day. It was not. It was General Zia-ul-Haq’s vicious regional power play.

Husain Haqqani has a unique insight into Pakistan, his homeland, and America, where he was ambassador and is now a professor at Boston University. His life has mapped the relationship of the two countries and he has found himself often close to the heart of it, sometimes in very confrontational circumstances, and this has allowed him to write the story of a misbegotten diplomatic love affair, here memorably laid bare.

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Kirkus Reviews, *starred* review
“[An] insightful, painful history of Pakistani-American relations… Demonstrating no mercy to either party, Haqqani admits that Pakistan verges on failed-state status but shows little patience with America's persistently shortsighted, fruitless policies.”

Library Journal
“Haqqani uses his wealth of personal experience to present a detailed account of the genesis and evolution of U.S.-Pakistani relations over the last 60 years… The book is a useful resource for academics, journalists, and policymakers at all levels.”

Publishers Weekly
“Insightful if disturbing... Making it clear why he is persona non grata in his homeland, Haqqani concludes that military aid has undermined Pakistan's democracy, converting it into a rentier state living off American money rather than its people's productivity.”

Asian Age
“The book is part memoir, part searing indictment of Pakistan's flawed strategy of using jihadis to secure its strategic space… [Haqqani proves] himself to be a diligent and tireless researcher who backs up almost every stinging commentary on Pakistan's journey since independence to the present day, with fact.”
Michael Kugelman, Foreign Policy
"Impeccably researched, with an overwhelming reliance on primary sources -- thereby making its often controversial findings impossible to dispute. The book's tone is strikingly restrained, subjective yet never polemical. This is admirable, given that its author's public service career has been damaged, if not destroyed, by the toxic nature of his subject."

Lisa Curtis, National Interest
“If you want a better understanding of why U.S. policy has failed so miserably in Pakistan, you should read Husain Haqqani's latest book… Fast-paced and highly readable… Haqqani has provided a well-documented and interesting account of the policy disconnects between the United States and Pakistan. His book should make a tremendous contribution toward grounding U.S. policy toward Pakistan in more realistic assumptions that will help avoid future crises between the two countries.”

Jeffrey Goldberg, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
"The questions Haqqani answers in this book—among them, Why do Pakistan and the United States perpetually careen from one crisis to another?—should make it indispensable reading for U.S. Presidents and secretaries of state.”

Declan Walsh, New York Times
“Patriotism, lies and wrenching disappointment are the interweaving coils of “Magnificent Delusions,” a sweeping survey of the tumultuous relations between Washington and Islamabad since Pakistan's founding in 1947. Since the American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, the alliance between the two countries has been sickly, with a racing pulse but little heart. Mr. Haqqani's scholarly history suggests that the condition is genetic, rooted in the very DNA of their relationship.”

Mark Moyer, Wall Street Journal
“[Haqqani's] purpose isn't to narrate his service as ambassador or score political points but to outline the contours of American relations with Pakistan over time, with a final chapter depicting the 2011 collapse as a new instance of historical trends. While one might desire a fuller accounting of his ambassadorship, the book covers its chosen ground superbly.”

Richard Leiby, Washington Post
“A solid synthesis of history, political analysis and social critique."

Kapil Komireddi, Daily Beast
"The most clear-eyed history of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship yet published...Not only should Haqqani's book be read by everyone with an interest in Pakistan; it ought be compulsory reading for members of Congress and officials at the State Department."
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