Songs of Blood and Sword

Posted by sepoy on April 16, 2010 · 2 mins read

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.


Aligarian | April 18, 2010

The Burnt Inside Of Pakistan's House Of Atreus Fatima Bhutto's impeccable prose looks her family's tragedies steadily in the eye, but turns a blind one towards the excesses of her beloved grandfather KHUSHWANT SINGH Another review of the book by Khushwant Singh.

Mircea | April 18, 2010

Great review Manan. I haven't picked up the book myself but will read it as soon as time permits. I wonder to what extent this book exists to fulfill the need for a 'pure space' of critique in Pakistan. Amidst Zardari's corruption, the army, and the Taliban, Fatima seems to arrive as almost a saviour, complete with beauty, cosmopolitanism and a presumed skepticism born of her experience as an 'outsider.' Mir Murtaza's flaws, such as they were, seem to fade in light of the charges she brings against Benazir. In being dead for so long, he avoids being tainted, and so does she by appealing to his nobility...but in harnessing herself to her father and grandfather so uncritically, doesn't Fatima also risk dredging up a lot of old uncomfortable memories and debates? I don't know precisely who her audience is and what the public discussion will be like in Pakistan. ps The photo in the Khushwant Singh review linked above is absolutely priceless!

null | April 19, 2010

According to the Times of India she even drank White wine on the occassion of her book launch

Chapati Lover | April 20, 2010

I used to know Tariq Rahim's daughter. Fatima Bhutto shouldn't whitewash his murder by her father's organization. I'm sick of Bhuttos.

nasir | April 21, 2010

so many people have been killed in violence in pakistan ,her own father killed so many people.She should not accuse other people then they will accuse her father too.All her father friends from sindh were gangsters and criminals.Its very hard to lose a father but she should move on an do something positive rather than keep accusing and critisizing people.So many people have lost their loved ones in pakistan due to violance.benazir bhutto's children lost their beloved mother too.fatima bhutto should stop accusing her dead aunt benazir bhutto.she is dead now.

gaddeswarup | April 24, 2010

William Darlymple's review:

chester watson | May 16, 2010

I do not have any idea about the personal character of Fatima but I do know that the Bhutto`s were always power hungry and there was always infighting within the family,both Murtaza and Shahnawaz were never men of good characters and Bhutto senior nationalized the Industry and screwed up the once flourishing economy and it never got to stand up on its two feet again. He always spoke about what the poor wanted to hear to get the votes of the rural population of that country without actually doing anything for them.Benazir may have been a good leader (at least the western press projects her that way although she did nothing for the poor during her rule except travel in flashy cars) but she along with her husband have been accused of multiple corruption charges.