Monday, September 25, 2006

"In the Line of Fire: A Memoir"

Ana Marie Cox writes:
During a joint appearance with President Bush, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf dodges questions about his allegation that the U.S. threatened to bomb his country if it did not cooperate in the war on terrorism: "I am launching my book on the 25th, and I am honor-bound to Simon & Schuster not to comment on the book before that day." Can you judge a book by its diplomatic cover?
The book in question is In the Line of Fire: A Memoir.

This book is his justification for retaining the presidency while being head of the army — and for continuing to do that beyond next year, when the Constitution appears to oblige him to step down. It is a likeable and personal account, woven with details that now sit oddly in the life of the leader of a large Muslim country. He went to Catholic and other Christian schools, because they were among the best, and had a dog called Whisky. As a young man he was something of a hothead. He was forever challenging authority, and crashed through exams because of an early romantic passion.

This is not a modest text, it has to be said. Never was there a better soldier or a more natural leader, he suggests, although he does offer endearing details about courting his wife in unfashionable clothes. There is a great deal of apparent score-settling, including waspish gibes at an army wife who anticipated a promotion for her husband that never came. There are also brisk justifications of his most controversial actions: leading the Pakistani forces’ dash into India at Kargil in May 1999, when he was Army Chief of Staff; and the October 1999 coup itself, when he deposed the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. His account of circling in an aircraft with only minutes of fuel left, while Sharif refused him permission to land, is told with such outrage that it almost disguises the constitutional outrage of the coup.

I skimmed the publisher's website and several American newspapers yet could find no excerpts from the memoir. The Times (London) has two--here and here.

--Marshal Zeringue