While I’ve spent much of this month’s blog posts putting up longish review essays on Feroz Khan’s Eating Grass (here and here), a shorter, and hopefully sweeter, review piece on the book came out the other day in the Bookbeat section of The Sunday Guardian, an Indian paper. The editors framed the piece perhaps more aggressively than I wished; the one sentence summary of the piece makes it sound as if I’m critical of Khan’s methodology or even basis in fact, when that’s far from the case. The point, as I tried to emphasize in the review, is that Eating Grass worked for me both as a straight up history, but also as a mirror for how Pakistani nuclear and military élites viewed the world. Whether we like that vision (one suspects that the readership of The Sunday Guardian doesn’t), or whether we think it’s the most productive long-term vision for the country or the region (I don’t, as the review makes clear) is one thing; but the important thing for the audiences that should be reading Khan’s work is that they at least understand where these élites are coming from when they think about nuclear weapons and strategy. Eating Grass, both intentionally in its discussion of ‘strategic culture’ but also unintentionally in some of the assumptions in Khan’s frameworks that I mention in the review.
Keep your eyes peeled later this week for a more full-blown review of the final parts of the book, covering (roughly) the 1980s and 1990s and some wrap-up thoughts on Pakistan in international history.