Book Review – The Bhutto Dynasty by Owen Bennett-Jones

First published, 2020

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I opened this biography of the Bhutto family with very little knowledge of the Pakistani political dynasty.

There’s no doubting the thoroughness of the research nor the understanding and insight of the author. The narrative is well-constructed, and the various family members, understandable and well-rounded. Even when their methods are underhand or their morals dubious, you come away with a real understanding of their motivations.

“To take just one example of how he (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) handled himself at this time, when asked how he, a major landowner, could promise land reform if he was not prepared to give up his own land straight away, he took off his jacket and threw it to the crowd. As people fought top grab it, the jacket was torn to shreds. Then Bhutto spoke: if he gave away his land straight away, that is what would happen and no one would get any. But when there were laws and systems in place, he would happily guide up his land for redistribution.”

Page 61, Chapter 2 Zulfikar’s Ascent, The Bhutto Dynasty by Owen Bennett-Jones

With so many larger than life, charismatic characters in the Bhutto clan, there was a danger that this book might read more like an epic saga than a political biography, but the author has such an authoritative voice and command of his subject that the reader is left with a comprehensive appreciation of Pakistan, from its inception to the twenty-first century.

A fascinating read, I would have liked a separate timeline at the beginning or end of the book, to give me a clearer understanding of what year we were in at any given point, but otherwise, an incredible book, full of drama and tragedy.