The Nine Lives of Pakistan

Julian Borger in The Guardian:

Declan Walsh begins his captivating new book on Pakistan with an account of how he came to leave the country for the first time, abruptly and involuntarily in May 2013. “The angels came to spirit me away,” is the way he puts it, using the Urdu slang for the all-powerful men of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), whose presence is felt, even when not seen, throughout The Nine Lives of Pakistan.

The ISI goons give Walsh no hint as to why he is being kicked out, and the government officials he quizzes simply shrug. His quest to unravel that mystery drives the narrative of the book as he goes back through his nine years as a correspondent in Pakistan, first for the Guardian and then for the New York Times, in search of an answer. The solution to the riddle, which emerges out of the haze, says a lot about the turbulent, fractious country Walsh is trying to understand.

The subtitle of the book is Dispatches from a Divided Nation and the author criss-crosses those political, religious, ethnic and generational fault lines, assembling a portrait of the vast country of 220 million people through his travels and the lives of the nine compelling protagonists.

More here.