Pakistan is here dissected part by part, from its birth in 1947 to its economic and legal infra-structure, its military, the ISI and its environmental threats.
Lieven, a professor of international relations and a former South Asia correspondent, provides a finely researched and forensic compendium. In it, he argues that far from any wider international preoccupations, Pakistan's real obsession remains its arch-rival and neighbour, India.
The central argument, for the West not to go in guns blazing, is a mature antidote to the neo-conservative "cut them adrift" policy. A near-failing state it may be, but its existence is essential for the region's stability. This is a penetrating, textured study.