To Live or to Perish Forever
Two Tumultuous Years in Pakistan
By Nicholas Schmidle
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805089387, 272pp.)
Publication Date: May 12, 2009
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A gritty, lively, and revelatory look inside the crucial and volatile nation of Pakistan
In To Live or to Perish Forever, Nicholas Schmidle takes readers to Pakistan’s rioting streets, to Taliban camps in the North-West Frontier Province, and on many surprising adventures as he provides a contemporary history of this country long riven by internal conflict. With the intimacy and good humor available only to the most fearless and open-eyed reporters, Schmidle narrates what was arguably the most turbulent period of Pakistan’s recent history, a time when President Pervez Musharraf lost his power and the Taliban found theirs, and when Americans began to realize that Pakistan’s fate is inextricably linked with our own.
In February 2006 Schmidle had traveled to Pakistan hoping to learn about the place dubbed “the most dangerous country in the world.” It was while there that he befriended a radical cleric (who became an enemy of the state and was killed), came to crave the smell of tear gas (because it assured him that he was sufficiently close to the action), and in the end, was deported by the Pakistani authorities, managed to get back into the country, and was chased out a second time.
Nicholas Schmidle is a fellow at the New America Foundation. He writes for the New York Times Magazine, Slate, The New Republic, Smithsonian, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, among other publications, and received the 2008 Kurt Schork Award for freelance journalism. As a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, he lived and reported in Pakistan for two years. Schmidle is a graduate of James Madison University and American University. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife.