I think my favorite part of Fatima Bhutto’s Songs of Blood and Sword is the conversation she has with the octogenarian Samuel Huntington at Harvard about her father who took a class with him. It is a brilliant little scene full of awkwardness and confusion. I don’t have the book here, else I would just type it out.
In any case, I have a review of the book up at The Review: Ghost Wars:
Songs of Blood and Sword can rightly be seen as the latest in a line of memoirs like Benazir’s Daughter of the East and Pervez Musharraf’s In the Line of Fire – each of them devoted to uncritical presentations of their authors or their families, made to stand in for the history of an entire nation. The tale of the Bhutto dynasty, from its feudal base to its populist claims and now to the stranger-than-fiction stewardship under Zardari (where else in this world can one bequeath a political party in a will?) still deserves to be told, and told properly.
This is not that book, and it should neither be sold nor judged as such: it is merely another primary document for that unwritten history, alongside the papers of her father, grandfather and aunt – which remain in the family home in Karachi.
I couldn’t expand on the last point in the review but I would like to stress here.
Fatima Bhutto quotes extensively from her father’s papers, from diaries of Benazir Bhutto, which she found in 71 Clifton, and from other papers. I would plead with Fatima Bhutto to take the papers of her father, grandfather and aunt – which remain in the family home, and deposit them in a public archive. I cannot imagine that Harvard or Oxford or Berkeley (alma maters of all involved) would decline such a gift. If she has written this book to make peace with her father’s memory, the availability of these documents would go a long way toward making peace with the history and memory of her country.