Rashid’s 2008 book on Pakistan was titled Descent Into Chaos. Four years later, the move from “chaos” to “the brink” does not augur any improvement. Rashid presents Pakistan as a failing state with an irresponsible civilian leadership and a military fixated on threats from India. Next door in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai is a disappointment, and the Obama administration waffles with surges, announced withdrawals, and tentative talks with the Afghan Taliban. Meanwhile, terrorist groups and Islamist movements are gaining ground in the region. This somber book opens with a compelling narration of the killing of Osama bin Laden and closes with a fine survey of the many neighboring countries that influence events in Afghanistan and Pakistan, from the Gulf states and Iran to China and India. This century’s Great Game in Asia is a multiplayer matter. No one should be overlooked. Many could play the spoiler.
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