Read On the Grand Trunk Road by Steve Coll Free Online
Book Title: On the Grand Trunk Road|
The author of the book: Steve Coll
ISBN 13: 9780517156148
Edition: Random House Value Publishing
Date of issue: August 8th 1995
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 3.23 MB
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Reader ratings: 6.9
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This is a reprint of a book Coll published in the early 90s after several years covering the region (India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) for The Washington Post. The reprint includes an Epilogue that picks up with Bhutto's assassination in 2007.
The writing is slightly demanding--the reader must pay attention. But the reader is also rewarded for his efforts (sorry i'm just not into feminist linguistics; English should develop a neutral pronoun) because Steve Coll is funny. He also chose very interesting people to highlight when describing the various issues that afflicted the region in the late 1980s and early 1990s as it was on the cusp of major change--the Soviet Union (a major benefactor) was crumbling, proto-democracy was on the rise, and horrible bloody revolutions were either in their own death throes or just trying to get started.
But this is a book written by an American for an American audience. So what does it all mean for an American? Well, the region is mightily complex and one book is not going to help an American understand it; I think this book is best read with a small amount of background of at least some of the region. The issues of Nepal and Sri Lanka were pretty new for me and i was much less familiar with Bangladesh than Pakistan, India, or Afghanistan. I liked that Coll arranged the book thematically, rather than in a linear fashion. Although he was "following" the Grand Trunk Road, he moved around quite a bit in time and space, for which i was quite thankful. Events repeated but were addressed from different angles and little by little the pieces of the puzzle began to come together for me--yet not perfectly! There is so much meat in this book (for me; i don't think the same would be true for an area specialist) that i will certainly reread it in the future.
So again, what does it mean for an American audience? Well, America and its allies are heavily involved in the region (again) (duh), but things don't seem to be going the way people thought they would way back in the early 2000s...we are about to start a new decade and despite time lines for withdrawal and whatnot, i don't really see us truly leaving Afghanistan any time soon. This book helps make clear that the obvious problems there are further complicated by historical conflict between India and Pakistan, which materialize in different ways and in different places. But to simplify for a moment and to focus on just the American perspective, a Pakistani politician summed everything up quite neatly and Coll quoted him in the epilogue:
I think we do not have a common plan because we did not have common objectives. You can't have partners who are suspicious of one another. The Americans are suspicious of us. We are suspicious of the Americans. The Afghans are suspicious of us. We are suspicious of the Aghans.
That, of course, can be extrapolated to include the suspicions that India and Pakistan have of each other. If you are wondering what Indo-Pakistani mis- and distrust have to do with the American adventure in Afghanistan and our fate there, please read this book.
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Read information about the authorSteve Coll is President & CEO of New America Foundation, and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. Previously he spent 20 years as a foreign correspondent and senior editor at The Washington Post, serving as the paper's managing editor from 1998 to 2004.
He is author six books, including The Deal of the Century: The Break Up of AT&T (1986); The Taking of Getty Oil (1987); Eagle on the Street, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the SEC's battle with Wall Street (with David A. Vise, 1991); On the Grand Trunk Road: A Journey into South Asia (1994), Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004); and The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (2008).
Mr. Coll's professional awards include two Pulitzer Prizes. He won the first of these, for explanatory journalism, in 1990, for his series, with David A. Vise, about the SEC. His second was awarded in 2005, for his book, Ghost Wars, which also won the Council on Foreign Relations' Arthur Ross award; the Overseas Press Club award and the Lionel Gelber Prize for the best book published on international affairs during 2004. Other awards include the 1992 Livingston Award for outstanding foreign reporting; the 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for his coverage of the civil war in Sierra Leone; and a second Overseas Press Club Award for international magazine writing.
Mr. Coll graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Cum Laude, from Occidental College in 1980 with a degree in English and history. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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