In September 1996, fourteen-year-old Fatima Bhutto hid in a windowless dressing room, shielding her baby brother, while shots rang out in the dark outside the family home in Karachi. This was the night her father Murtaza was murdered. It was the latest in a long line of tragedies for one of the world’s best-known political dynasties.
Songs of Blood and Sword tells the story of a family of feudal landlords who became powerbrokers. It is an epic tale of intrigue, the making of modern Pakistan, and ultimately, tragedy. A searing testament to a troubled land, Songs of Blood and Sword reveals a daughter’s love for her father and her search to uncover the truth of his life and death.
The tense first chapter of this moving memoir ends with the announcement, “Your father’s been shot.” Fatima was 14 in 1996 when her beloved father, Mir Murtazi Bhutto, was murdered by police in Karachi. Her grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, was executed in 1979. One aunt was murdered in 1985, and another aunt, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated in 2007. Was Benazir involved in the murder of Fatima’s father? With the account of her dynastic family and their bloody battles, Bhutto weaves in the politics of Pakistan and its foreign relations, including those with the U.S., the Middle East, and China. Exposing the corruption of the present leadership and the military, she is passionate about how fundamentalist religion is used to thwart democracy. Was her grandfather removed for attempting to bring in some semblance of democracy? Can a dynasty introduce democracy? With the current arguments about the role of the U.S. in Afghanistan and in nuclear-armed Pakistan, this fierce insider’s view will have a wide readership, both angry and sympathetic. --Hazel Rochman
William Dalrymple, *Financial Times
*“Moving, witty . . . a uniquely fascinating, wonderfully well-constructed memoir.”
Sir Bob Geldof
“The Bhuttos are an Asian Borgia or Plantagenet dynastic family. This then is an important and timely book offering a rare insight into the violent world of Pakistani politics told by a direct witness. It’s also the story of a daughter’s love for her murdered father and many other members of her family. Power not only corrupts—it kills.”
“A story with dazzling twists and turns told by a true-blue member of the Bhutto fold.”
“Political intrigue, administrative corruption and widespread avarice, refracted through a narrative of family history and sibling hostilities, make Songs of Blood and Sword read like a darker version of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy.”
Charles Glass, former ABC News Chief Middle East Correspondent, author of Tribes with Flags and* Americans in Paris: Life and Death Under Nazi Occupation.*
"Fatima Bhutto writes a compelling account that is both political and personal. Her life is proof that in Pakistan, torn apart by American diktat and local avarice, the political is the personal. Her passion and integrity ring out on every page. If you don't understand what is happening to Pakistan and Afghanistan, you soon will."
Roderick Matthews, *The Guardian*
“In clear and unpretentious prose [Songs of Blood and Sword] gives a vivid impression of the brutal and corrupt world of Pakistani power politics, which has resulted in the violent deaths of four members of the Bhutto dynasty in the past thirty-one years.”