Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Book Reviews: India and Pakistan


February 26, 2018: This year’s crop includes three masterful books about India. Shivshankar Menon, known to many of our readers as one of the leading lights of Indian foreign policy, has written a slim volume, Choices, about key points where India was forced, however reluctantly, to choose between two incompatible policy paths. This is a problem it will confront more frequently as its power expands. Vinay Sitapati’s Half Lion sketches the life of Narasimha Rao, whom the author regards as one of the unsung heroes of recent Indian history. Milan Vaishnav has brought political science to life with When Crime Pays, about the relationship between money and muscle in Indian politics. On the Pakistan side, Owen Sirrs has tried to demystify the ISI – Inter Services Intelligence Directorate. And Daniel Haines’ Rivers Divided looks at the Indus Waters Treaty – the most durable accord between India and Pakistan – from the perspective of the negotiating constraints on both sides.


Read the whole review here.


This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Review of “India at the Global High Table”

Kishan Rana’s review of our India at the Global High Table appeared in the October 2016 issue9789350297858-1 of The Book Review, New Delhi. The book was published in India by HarperCollins in July 2016, and in Washington by Brookings Institution Press in April 2016. Read the review here. A short review from the September issue of Foreign Affairs appears here.

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Book Reviews: South Asia

from flickr,

from flickr,

September 21, 2016: Five interesting additions to the South Asia literature this year. Robert Crews’ Afghan Modern depicts Afghanistan as a nation formed by intense interaction with global powers – an arresting thesis, though he left out some important counterweights. A.S. Dulat, Indian intelligence chief with deep experience in Kashmir, gave us Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, an irreverent and surprisingly sensible account whose punch line was that talking to everyone is the only way out of today’s impasse. Mark Salter’s To End a Civil War goes deeply into Norway’s effort to resolve Sri Lanka’s two-decade ethnic conflict. Somini Sengupta, a New York Times reporter who spent years in India, provides an extraordinary picture of the “New India.” And Alex Vatanka’s Iran and Pakistan is, surprisingly, the first serious book I have seen on that important relationship.


Read my reviews of all five books here. 


This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.




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India at the Global High Table: Remarks at Richmond



May 10, 2016: Introducing India at the Global High Table at the Richmond World Affairs Council, we discussed emerging India’s international role, focusing on the main themes of its foreign policy, the competing visions of India’s role in the world, and some examples of India’s negotiating Style. Books are available at Brookings (, at Amazon, and in book stores. The text of our remarks follows:

Good evening.  It’s a great pleasure for my wife and me to come here to Richmond to talk with you about India and the book we’ve written about the drivers of its foreign policy and diplomatic practices. The two of us have spent a good deal of time as State Department officials working in India and dealing in Washington with Indian Read more

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India at the Global High Table

December 21, 2015: The book that we have been working on for three years is going to be published by


Brookings Institution Press in the spring of 2016!  We’ve looked at India’s emerging role, global vision, and negotiating style. Read the longer description in the Brookings Press’s preview of “coming attractions.” For those who read our earlier book, How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States, the subject matter is similar, but the story it tells is quite different.

We wish all our friends and colleagues a joyful holiday season, and South Asia Hand looks forward to a new year of news – hopefully more of the good kind.

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Book Reviews – India, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka


This year’s publications include five noteworthy books on South Asia. Sanjaya Baru’s  The Accidental Prime Minister paints a close-up portrait of Manmohan Singh and Diego Maiorano’s Autumn of the Matriarch dissects the decline of Nehru’s congress and the rise of a more de-institutionalized party in the last years of Indira Gandhi – interesting contrasts to today’s Modi government. Bidisha Biswas takes a close look at how India has tackled internal conflicts in Managing Conflicts in India. Andrew Small’s The China-Pakistan Axis is the first serious study of this fascinating relationship. And Samanth Subramanian’s This Divided Island is an intimate look at Sri Lanka’s war and its aftermath, told in unforgettable vignettes.

Read Teresita Schaffer’s reviews here.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Book Reviews 2014 – Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India-US

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Five new books: Gary Bass on US diplomacy, a “forgotten genocide,” and the birth of Bangladesh; Srinath Raghavan on global diplomacy in the same crisis; Hassan Abbas on Pakistan and and the “Taliban Revival”; Haroon K. Ullah on Pakistan’s Islamic political parties; and Rudra Chaudhuri on US-India relations. Read Teresita Schaffer’s review in Survival.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©, The International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Five books on South Asia – 2013

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Teresita Schaffer reviews five books about South Asia:

  • Muslim Zion, by Faisal Devji, traces the ideas behind Pakistan’s national Islamic identity and situates them in the history of political thought.
  • From the Ruins of Empire, by Pankaj Misra, recounts the careers of Asian intellectuals Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Liang Qichao, and Rabindranath Tagore.
  • Aspiration and Ambivalence, by Vanda Felbab-Brown, describes the challenge of governance in Afghanistan.
  • Samudra Manthan, by C. Raja Mohan, analyzes the strategic rivalry in the Indian Ocean between India and China.
  • Transforming India, by Sumantra Bose, sketches the role of local and regional identities in India’s conflicts and governance.

Click here to read the review.

This is a preprint of an article submitted for consideration in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy ©The International Institute for Strategic Studies. Available online at:

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Riding the Roller Coaster: Excerpt – Dealing with India in the US-Pakistan Relationship

In its dealings with the United States, Pakistan starts from the threat it perceives from India and emphasises India’s shortcomings. It will continue to use the United States as a balancer, barring a major improvement in India-Pakistan relations.

This excerpt from our book describes on the basis of our experience and extensive interviews how we believe Pakistan looks on India and on U.S.-India relations, and how Pakistan expresses these views in its dealings with the United States. It’s a perspective many will not agree with or welcome, but it affects how Pakistan deals with both India and the United States.

Read an excerpt from our book, as first published in The Hindu on June 13, 2011.

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Book Launch: How Pakistan Negotiates with the U.S.

Tezi and I, then a married couple of three years standing, first came to Pakistan on diplomatic assignment 37 years ago. Our second son was born at our house in Islamabad. We’ve been following developments in the country with great interest, often mingled with anxiety, ever since….  What we’ve tried to do is to analyze the themes, techniques, and styles that have characterized Pakistani negotiations with American civil and military officials in recent years and to reach some conclusions about how these are likely to shape up in the future.

Our book, How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster, was launched at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington on April 12. We were joined by Stephen Cohen, Brookings Institution, and by Akbar S. Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University.

Read what we had to say. Or, watch the video of the book launch.

Read Michael O’Hanlon’s review, published in; read review in Foreign Affairs.

Read review by former Pakistan ambassador to the United States Tariq Fatemi, in the Express Tribune (Islamabad), August 24, 2011.

See a short video of our comments on How Pakistan Negotiates with the United States: Riding the Roller Coaster.

Read short description of the book

Order the book

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