David L. Ulin at the LA Times:
We're not accustomed to considering Pakistan with such subtlety, at least not in the United States. As such, “Discontent and its Civilizations” is at its best when Hamid takes time to deconstruct our preconceptions, as in the long essays “Why They Get Pakistan Wrong” — which reminds us that “[t]he country's annual death toll from terrorist attacks rose from 164 in 2003 to 3,318 in 2009, a level exceeding the number of Americans killed on September 11” — and “Why Drones Don't Help,” with its explication of the blowback provoked by our policies.
“To turn on one's TV's in Pakistan is to find oneself entering a world permeated with conspiracy theories,” he writes, before turning the argument on us: “Conspiracy theorists have numerous examples they can cite in support of their positions. But perhaps none is as emotionally potent as the claim that flying robots from an alien power regularly strike down from the skies and kill Pakistani citizens. In the U.S., such a claim would be science fiction or paranoid survivor cultism of the furthest fringe-dwelling kind. In Pakistan, it is real.”