On the (book)shelf

Titles available at Books n Beans (Lahore) or through www.vanguardbooks.com

On the (book)shelf

After the Sheikhs: The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies
Christopher Davidson
Hurst (2015)

The Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia and its five smaller neighbours: the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain) have long been governed by highly autocratic and seemingly anachronistic regimes. Yet despite bloody conflicts on their doorsteps, fast-growing populations, and powerful modernising and globalising forces impacting their largely conservative societies, they have demonstrated remarkable resilience. Obituaries for these traditional monarchies have frequently been penned, but even now these absolutist, almost medieval, entities still appear to pose the same conundrum as before: in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring and the fall of incumbent presidents in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, the apparently steadfast Gulf monarchies have, at first glance, re-affirmed their status as the Middle East’s only real bastions of stability. In this book, however, noted Gulf expert Christopher Davidson contends that the collapse of these kings, emirs, and sultans is going to happen, and was always going to. While the revolutionary movements in North Africa, Syria, and Yemen will undeniably serve as important, if indirect, catalysts for the coming upheaval, many of the same socio-economic pressures that were building up in the Arab republics are now also very much present in the Gulf monarchies. It is now no longer a matter of if but when the West s steadfast allies fall. This is a bold claim to make but Davidson, who accurately forecast the economic turmoil that afflicted Dubai in 2009, has an enviable record in diagnosing social and political changes afoot in the region.

Christopher Davidson is reader in Government and International Affairs at Durham University, a former visiting associate professor at Kyoto University, and a former assistant professor at Zayed University in the UAE. He is the author of several books on the politics and international affairs of the Gulf states, including Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond, Dubai: The Vulnerability of Success, and most recently The Persian Gulf and Pacific Asia: From Indifference to Interdependence.

Pakistan: Glimpses of vistas, history and culture
Riaz Mohammad Khan
Imprint (2012)

This book is a celebration of the extraordinary beauty and diversity of Pakistan, the phenomenal variance of its landscape and the richness of its history, culture and traditions. The portrayal includes brief descriptions of the country’s geography ranging from icy heights to Alpine forests and verdant plains to burning deserts and rocky plateaus, of its civilization spanning over seven millennia and of the life of its people and their old and new traditions. This publication will, hopefully, offer an engaging introduction to the land and people of Pakistan.
Riaz Mohammad Khan was the Wilson Center’s Pakistan Scholar in 2009. Previously, he spent nearly four decades in Pakistan’s diplomatic service, where his last positions were foreign secretary (2005-08) and ambassador to China (2002-05). He also held posts dealing with Europe, Central Asia, Afghanistan, arms control, and disarmament. He is the author of Untying the Afghan Knot: Negotiating Soviet Withdrawal, written while he was a diplomat-in-residence at Georgetown University.

The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason
Christopher de Bellaigue
Bodley Head (2017), Rs1,495

The Islamic Enlightenment: a contradiction in terms? The Muslim world has often been accused of a failure to modernise, reform and adapt. But, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day, Islamic society in its Middle Eastern heartlands has in fact been transformed by modern ideals and practices, including the adoption of modern medicine, the emergence of women from purdah and the development of democracy.
Who were the scholars and scientists, writers and politicians that brought about these remarkable changes? And why is their legacy now under threat?

Beginning with the dramatic collision of East and West following Napoleon’s arrival in Egypt, and taking us through 200 tumultuous years of Middle Eastern history, Christopher de Bellaigue introduces us to key figures and reformers; from Egypt’s visionary ruler Muhammad Ali to brave radicals like Iran’s first feminist Qurrat al-Ayn and the writer Ibrahim Sinasi, who transformed Ottoman Turkey’s language and literature.
This book tells the forgotten story of the Islamic Enlightenment. It shows us how to look beyond sensationalist headlines to foster a genuine understanding of modern Islam and Muslim culture, and is essential reading for anyone engaged with the state of the world today.

Christopher de Bellaigue is a journalist and author who has covered the Middle East and South Asia since 1994. His latest book is The Islamic Enlightenment: The modern struggle between faith and reason.

China’s Borderlands: The Faultline of Central Asia
Steven Parham
I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd (2017)

As China begins its momentous New Silk Road project and expands its influence into Central Asia, the borderlands between China, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have become sites of ethnic tension and political struggle. This region – which marks the meeting of China and post-Soviet Central Asia – is increasingly important militarily, economically and geographically. Yet we know little of the people that live there, beyond a romanticised ‘Silk Road’ sense of fraternity. In fact, relations between the people of this region are tense, and border violence is escalating – even as the identity and nationality of the people on the ground shifts to meet their new geopolitical realities. As Steven Parham shows, many of the world’s Soviet borders have proved to be deeply unstable and, in the end, impermanent. Meanwhile, the looming presence of Modern China and Russia, who are funneling money and military resources into the region – partly to fight what they see as a growing Islamic activism – are adding fuel to the fire. This lyrical, intelligent book functions as part travelogue, part sociological exploration, and is based on a unique body of research – five months trekking through the checkpoints of the border regions. As China continues to grow and become more assertive, as it has been recently in Africa and in the South China Seas – as well as in Xinjiang – China’s borderlands have become a battleground between the Soviet past and the Chinese future.

Steven Parham spent a year travelling through the borderlands of Central Asia and recording what he saw. He is Associate Researcher in Ethnography at the University of Bern and a Post-Doctoral Researcher on Central Asia at the University of Tampere in Finland. He has lectured around the world, including at universities in Turkey and in Budapest.

Trials: On Death Row in Pakistan
Isabel Buchanan
Vintage (2016)

In 2011, Isabel Buchanan, a twenty-three-year-old Scottish lawyer, moved to Pakistan to work in a new legal chambers in Lahore. The chambers was run by a determined thirty-three-year-old Pakistani lawyer, Sarah Belal, who had finally found her calling in defending inmates on Pakistan’s death row.

Belal and Buchanan struck up an unlikely friendship, forged through working in a system that was instinctively hostile to newcomers – and doubly so if they were female. At Sarah’s side, and with the help of Nasar, the firm’s legendary clerk, Buchanan plunged into the strange and complex world of Pakistan’s justice system. The work was arduous, underfunded, and dangerous. But for a young Scottish lawyer like Buchanan it was an unparalleled education, offering a window onto a much-misunderstood country and culture. Filled with beautifully drawn characters, she creates a narrative brimming with ideas and bursting with humanity. It is a story of Pakistan, but it is also a universal story of the pursuit of justice in an uncertain world.

Isabel Buchanan graduated from Glasgow’s School of Law with an LLB in 2009, where she was awarded the David Theodore Lowe prize for excellence in Jurisprudence. She returned to the School to complete an MRes in Legal Theory the following year.