Reading List

The War to Be Her Delve Deeper Reading List

Adult Nonfiction

Talbot, Ian. Pakistan: A Modern History. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

This book fills the need for a broad, historically sophisticated understanding of Pakistan, a country at fifty which is understood by many in the West only in terms of stereotypes—the fanatical, authoritarian and reactionary “other” which is unfavorably compared to a tolerant, democratic and progressive India. There is a need at the time of Pakistan’s golden jubilee for it to be taken seriously in its own right as a country of 130 million people.

Rashid, Ahmed. Descent into Chaos: The United States & the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia. Viking Books, 2008.

After September 11th , Ahmed Rashid’s crucial book Taliban introduced American readers to that now notorious regime. In this new work, he returns to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia to review the catastrophic aftermath of America’s failed war on terror.

Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan: A Hard Country. Penguin Books, 2012.

With almost 200 million people, a 500,000-man army, nuclear weapons, and a large diaspora in Britain and North America, Pakistan is central to the hopes of jihadis and the fears of their enemies. Yet the greatest short-term threat to Pakistan is not Islamist insurgency as such, but the actions of the United States, and the greatest long-term threat is ecological change.

Toorpakai, Maria and Katharine Holstein. A Different Kind of Daughter: A Girl Who Hid From the Taliban in Plain Sight. Twelve, 2016.

Maria Toorpakai Wazir has lived her life disguised as a boy, defying the Taliban, in order to pursue her love of sport. Coming second in a national junior weightlifting event for boys, Maria decided to put her future in her own hands by going in disguise. When she discovered squash and was easily beating all the boys, life became more dangerous.

Zakaria, Rafia. The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan. Beacon Press, 2015.

For a brief moment on December 27, 2007, life came to a standstill in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto, the country’s former prime minister and the first woman ever to lead a Muslim country, had been assassinated at a political rally just outside Islamabad. Back in Karachi—Bhutto’s birthplace and Pakistan’s other great metropolis—Rafia Zakaria’s family was suffering through a crisis of its own: her Uncle Sohail, the man who had brought shame upon the family, was near death. In that moment these twin catastrophes—one political and public, the other secret and intensely personal—briefly converged.

Suleri, Sara. Meatless Days. University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Meatless Days is a searing memoir of life in the newly-created country of Pakistan. When sudden and shocking tragedies hit the author’s family two years apart, her personal crisis spirals into a wider meditation on universal questions: about being a woman when you’re too busy being a mother or a sister or a wife to consider your own womanhood; about how it feels to begin life in a new language; about how our lives are changed by the people that leave them.