• Magnificent Delusions

  • Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding
  • By: Husain Haqqani
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 14 hrs and 23 mins
  • Categories: History, Asia
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (131 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A character-driven history that describes the bizarrely ill-suited alliance between America and Pakistan, written by a uniquely insightful participant: Pakistan's former ambassador to the US.

The relationship between America and Pakistan is based on mutual incomprehension, and always has been. Pakistan - to American eyes - has gone from being a stabilizing friend to an essential military ally to a seedbed of terror. America - to Pakistani eyes - has been a guarantee of security, a coldly distant scold, an enthusiastic military supplier and ally, and now a threat to national security and a source of humiliation.

In their sixty-five year relationship, one country has become a global superpower, the other perilously close to a failed state - perhaps one of the most dangerous places in the world.

Husain Haqqani has a unique insight into Pakistan, hishomeland, and America, where he was the Pakistani ambassador and is now a professor at Boston University. His life has mapped the relationship of Pakistan and America, and he has found himself often close to the heart of it - sometimes in very confrontational circumstances, even under house arrest - which has allowed him to write the story of the two countries' turbulent affair, here memorably laid bare.

©2013 Hussani Haqqani (P)2013 Blackstone Audiobooks

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book overall.

Although I personally don't like the author but this is a well-researched book and lays out history of delusions from both sides in a very interesting manner, explaining the basis of many conspiracy theories rampant in Pakistan.
It is well-written and well-narrated.

2 people found this helpful

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Engaging but biased

Would you listen to Magnificent Delusions again? Why?

Provides a brief overview of the relationship between India and Pakistan over the years.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The story gets more engaging when the author becomes a first hand witness to events.

What about Ralph Lister’s performance did you like?

Overall good with some minor issues with pronouncing Pakistani names correctly

Any additional comments?

The book has a lot of substance and devotes adequate amount time to each phase in the history. It would've been better if the author laid emphasis on the dates a tad more.

The author however clearly has an American bias. He portrays them as innocent and sometimes even naive in dealing with the Pakistani deception. One can't give clean chit to the US for its involvement in the affairs of other countries.

1 person found this helpful

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PAKISTAN AND U.S. RELATIONS

Husain Haqqani, in “Magnificent Delusions”, recounts the history of Pakistan and its troubled relationship with the United States and India. Haqqani explains how nations act with delusion and misunderstanding. Ethnic diversity within nations makes speaking with one voice impossible. Consequent delusions and misunderstandings between nations foment arms escalation and international conflict.

Diplomatic policy and action are a reflection of what leaders can do within the framework of their respective governments and cultures. Haqqani infers that delusion and misunderstanding correlate with cultural ignorance; an ignorance that is endemic in nation-to-nation communication.

Haqqani was imprisoned for his efforts to remove the veil of obfuscation between the United States and Pakistan. He was eventually released by the Pakistani court system and allowed to leave Pakistan. “Magnificent Delusions” is a sad tale of a hard road Pakistan travels. It is a frightening explanation of growing terrorist potential of a country riven by social, economic, and ethnic conflict.

An ambassador that understands the culture of a country he/she is sent to is the greatest protection from delusion and misunderstanding between host and sponsor countries. “Magnificent Delusions” is an excellent primer for aspiring ambassadors.

1 person found this helpful

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It it Delusions or Sleeping with the Enemy

Any additional comments?

I opted to read this book with some skepticism - bordering prejudice - because of the author's switching sides between the two major polarized political parties of Pakistan. Not just that, he orchestrated his career so well that he enjoyed an ambassadorial position with each of the government in power. His standing was further compromised for his alleged involvement in writing a letter to Admiral Mullen to save Pakistan's democracy. I must hasten to add though that by the time I finished this book I was convinced that Mr. Haqqani wrote this book objectively and did not let his personal political life and ambitions eclipse writing about the thorny subject of US-Pakistan relationship.

I read (rather listened) this book for the very purpose of learning more about this sensitive relationship between the two countries that keeps swinging between the two extremes. Mr. Haqqani did a very good job by narrating this long saga (from 1947 to date) with details, facts and research. It sounds true and accurate and I find no reasons to suspect otherwise.
This comment is not a reflection on the book but I felt deeply embarrassed and belittled reading that Pakistan picked up the begging bowl right from its inception and never made a sincere effort to let go off it. Even the previous President, Mr. Zardari, was singing the same song – this time under the tune of a Marshall Plan. I wonder if the author, then an ambassador in US, had anything to orchestrate its melody. An irony again that after more half a century Pakistan and US relationship remains uncertain as ever, in that, they are neither trustworthy friends nor arch rivals.

This comment is essentially about its audio book version. I am not sure if the audio book version was somewhat flawed in the chronology but a few events narrated seemed out of calendar sequence. Also the narration itself lacked in energy and style, hence provided for rather monotonous listening.

The book however has to be judged for the quality and accuracy of its content and it scores high marks on that score.

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Interesting but not in-depth

Probably not supposed to be indepth, it is a fast paced, rational, and unbiased summary of US-PAKISTAN relations since laters coming into existence in 1947.

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Awesome

Pakistan is mislead by Mullahs and politician all know that. It is nice to know the details from the separation to now. I am very impressed by the author.

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good overview of a troubled history/unsure future

it was definitely a fun listen with information dating back to the founding of Pakistan, the wars it created with India, and an aspiration to be the equal of India that will never come to fruition, much to their frustrations. it seems like Pakistan's closeness with China and ability to reach out to China today helps defer the pain of paying back loans so much like America China seems to need to learn a lesson, although the probably desire a weakened India.

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Most ungrateful ally?

This book does such an excellent job of explaining the incredibly dysfunctional relationship between America and Pakistan. That America would be so foolish to continue to support a country that has only once supported Americas interests, and in that one instance used American arms and money to put the Taliban in control of Afghanistan and foster al Qaeda and other radical Islamist terrorists groups, is a great indictment of American foreign policy in the near east, south and Central America, Africa, well all over the world I guess. A history of unprovoked aggression against India support and control of terrorist groups in Kashmir. They insisted on the partition of India into Pakistan and India. Then committed genocide against the already repressed newly independent Bangladesh, formerly east Pakistan. All the time getting f16s, cruisers, tanks, and billions of dollars from the USA? They traded nuclear secrets with Iran and North Korea, developed nuclear weapons while consistently lying about it the us and each year the us president had to attest to Pakistan not developing nukes in order to keep giving them economic, humanitarian, and military assistance. Absolutely fucking ridiculous! What a sad tale for the people of the world and especially the central Asian countries continuing to suffer from foreign imperialism and despotic little men.

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Hussein Haqqani's personal biases

The book is well written and reiterates previous writings by Haqqani. Among other issues with this book, the sources Haqqani uses are limited in scope which do not take all aspects of the context into consideration. With the benefit of hindsight it's easy to make judgements. However, in the real world it isn't as simple as Haqqani presents it in that Pakistani generals were making a fool out of American leaders. Haqqani needs to look beyond his liberal blinders and appropriate blame to all actors that have made South Asia less secure and less prosperous than its potential. India is the regional power and thus make concessions to bring stability to the region. Haqqani failed to mention that Pakistan had proposed a Kashmir settlement along the lines of current boundaries with more autonomy for Kashmiris. It was Indian military that vetoed any deal with Pakistan on Kashmir.

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Informative but perhaps a bit biased

Pakistan is made the villain in this book. Interpretation is quite biased. Book tells a story of US being naive and constantly being fooled by the Pakistanis. Writer's biases come out given his personal experiences with the Pakistani government and military.

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  • Saeed
  • 02-28-19

Completely Biased Narrative

This book was a waste of time, the author is accused of being an American stooge by his own admission. Quite rightly so in my opinion. He had absolutely nothing good to say about a single one of Pakistan’s leaders, and made out USA and it’s secret agencies as if they are the most honest and honourable people around. I suppose he needs his green card the sell out.

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  • Judy Corstjens
  • 05-11-16

A pretty miserable tale, well told

If you are interested in the story of Pakistan from independence (1947) to the present day (well, 2013) this book provides a wonderful sweep. For me it was one of those excellent books that packages all the snippets of news from my whole life time and groups and organises them into one comprehensible narrative. I'm not able to judge whether M. Haqqani is biased, but he certainly has been in the thick of Pakistani politics for many years (the book gets noticeably more lively once he moves from history to his first hand experiences), but he seems to be able to take a reasonably objective view of American and Pakistan's desires, beliefs, and errors. It is pretty downbeat, overall, delusions and misunderstanding indeed.

Warning - the book is detailed and sometimes seems repetitive (maybe that is history) so you really do have to be interested in the subject to pay attention through 14 hours.

Narrator was perfectly cast. The voice sounds like an educated foreign-office type with slightly Indian intonations. Fourteen hours of genuine Pakistani accented English would have been too tiring for this UK listener.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-08-20

Very one sided

The way Mr Haqqani tells it, the U.S were not dissimilar in their innocent naivety to the indigenous Americans when Columbus (in this book played by all Pakistanis to ever deal with the U.S with the exception of himself) landed on their shores. You really feel for the Americans as they trade away all their gold in return for shiny but worthless pieces of glass. I had a lump in my throat each time the young American virgin entered the dark prison cell filled with lascivious Pakistani inmates. Really tough to read. It was tough for me to read, but I forced myself to read this only as a challenge to find some shred of evidence as to his Pakistani-ness. In the end I found what I was looking for.... right at, literally, the very end. In one of the final sentences he writes he says something about essentially being so critical of Pakistan, for it's own good. Yet, I don't mind him or anyone being critical of Pakistan, only an unreasonable person would be uncritical of Pakistan. All Pakistanis are critical of Pakistan - we can all see it's a mess. But Mr Haqqani is one of those Pakistanis who rues the day Pakistan was created. Anyway, Mr, Haqqani is entitled to his opinion, but in a professional capacity, to ignore the unhealthy dynamics that have needed to exist to hold Pakistan together and to be utterly unaware of American objectives within the region wrt the Chinese and the Russians, just paint him as incompetent as the rest of the Pakistani leadership. Most leaders of Pakistan have used Pakistan for their own selfish reasons and Mr. Haqqani is no different. The post created a great opportunity for him to secure a good role for himself outside of Pakistan and for the reason of selling this book he had to tailor the message in a way that was more appealing to Westerners. He has obviously left out a lot because aside from a couple of anecdotes, there's nothing in this text that cannnot be found easily on the internet. Fair play to him for getting what he needs out of it and fair play to Pakistani leaders to get out of the U.S what they needed at the time. And spare a thought for the benevolent superpower, who got fleeced by all the South Americans, the Vietnamese, the Iraqis, the Libyans, the Syrians, the Palestinians.... I mean I'm tearful when I think about it really.