This book is a sympathetic, frank and nuanced account of the political, social and economic trajectories of Bangladesh and Pakistan since they separated in 1971, by an author who served as US ambassador to both countries. It draws also on William Milam's continuing close monitoring of theevolution of Bangladesh and Pakistan in subsequent years, and his research into their histories and cultures. Pakistan has evolved into a praetorian state which seems mired in a vicious circle of army interventions overturning corrupt and inept civilian governments. The political implosion of 2007, precipitated by the tunnel-vision politics of the military and of its leader, General Musharraf, may, possibly, mark a watershed, while widespread dismay over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto could yet mobilise the people behind a campaign for unfettered civilianrule. In contrast, even though the Bangladesh Army returned to the political fray in January 2007, after a seventeen-year hiatus, it seems intent on turning power back to civilians as soon as it can. In 1990, that Army bowed out of politics after a checkered history of similar interventions inBangladesh's first two decades. Several other motifs cut across the political themes that underpin this book, religion being the most prominent one. Having become an ideological state some years ago, Pakistan is now in danger of becoming an Islamic state, while all the while facing attack from an al Qaeda-linked jihadi network.Bangladeshi society is not yet Islamicised to anywhere near the extent of Pakistan, yet poor governance has exposed fault lines that jihadi groups in the region seek to exploit.