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Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman's Journey Through Afghanistan [Paperback]

Fariba Nawa

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Book Description

Oct. 31 2011
Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa delivers a revealing and deeply personal explorationof Afghanistan and the drug trade which rules the country, from corruptofficials to warlords and child brides and beyond. KhaledHosseini, author of The Kite Runner and AThousand Splendid Suns calls Opium Nation “an insightful andinformative look at the global challenge of Afghan drug trade. Fariba Nawa weaves her personalstory of reconnecting with her homeland after 9/11 with a very engagingnarrative that chronicles Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into opiumtrafficking…and most revealingly, how the drug trade has damaged the lives ofordinary Afghan people.” Readers of Gayle Lemmon Tzemach’sThe Dressmaker of Khair Khanaand Rory Stewart’s The Places Between will find Nawa’spersonal, piercing, journalistic tale to be an indispensable addition to thecultural criticism covering this dire global crisis.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (Oct. 31 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061934704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061934704
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #462,848 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


“Nawa deftly sketches the geopolitical nightmare that is today’s Afghanistan, but the book’s real strength is her detailed, sensitive reporting of individual people’s stories.” (Boston Globe)

“Powerful. . . . Nawa draws rich, complex portraits of subjects on both sides of the law . . . Nawa’s work is remarkable for its depth, honesty, and commitment to recording women’s stories, even when it means putting her own safety at risk. She writes with passion about the history of her volatile homeland and with cautious optimism about its future.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Nawa ably captures the tragic complexity of Afghan society and the sheer difficulty of life there. . . . Her assured narrative clearly stems from in-depth reporting in a risk-laden environment.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Insightful and informative. . . . Fariba Nawa weaves her personal story of reconnecting with her homeland after 9/11 with a very engaging narrative that chronicles Afghanistan’s dangerous descent into opium trafficking . . . [and] how the drug trade has damaged the lives of ordinary Afghan people.” (Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns)

Opium Nation brings much needed depth and complexity to any conversation involving Afghanistan and its future. Fariba Nawa writes with the detailed eye of a journalist, the warmth of a proud Afghan and the nuanced perspective of someone effortlessly straddling the East and the West.” (Firoozeh Dumas, author of Laughing Without an Accent and Funny in Farsi)

“Journalists, policy makers, and scholars have written on the Afghan drug trade, but no one has shown its human drama and toll like Fariba Nawa. [She] offers a unique view of the human side of this conflict in which we are so deeply engaged.” (Barnett R. Rubin, author of The Fragmentation of Afghanistan)

From the Back Cover

When veteran reporter Fariba Nawa returned home to Afghanistan—the nation she had fled as a child with her family during the Soviet invasion nearly twenty years earlier—she discovered a fractured country transformed by a multibillion-dollar drug trade. In Opium Nation, Nawa deftly illuminates the changes that have overtaken Afghanistan after decades of unbroken war. Sharing remarkable stories of poppy farmers, corrupt officials, expats, drug lords, and addicts, including her haunting encounter with a twelve-year-old child bride who was bartered to pay off her father’s opium debts, Nawa offers a revealing and provocative narrative of a homecoming more difficult than she ever imagined as she courageously explores her own Afghan American identity and unveils a startling portrait of a land in turmoil.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I was there Jan. 26 2012
By Nina Joy - Published on Amazon.com
I lived in Kabul for a short time in the apartment with Fariba, 2005-6. I didn't know what kind of a crazy lady I was dealing with then! I just finished Opium Nation! What a Book! I cried. After doing psychosocial wellness work in Afghanistan I care about the people and am really worried as things get worse for the country again. I'm glad Fariba gives some ideas about how it could get better. I was really shocked at how much opium has infected the country. Nina Joy
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The human side of the Afghan drug trade April 11 2012
By James Daniels - Published on Amazon.com
A very enjoyable and highly recommended read. Journalist Fariba Nawa brings the Afghan people to life, which is a wonderful change of pace from the one-dimensional, cartoonish depictions that the media too often feeds its audience. Opium Nation is a fascinating and insightful trip into the depths of the infamous Afghan drug trade. Nawa touches on a wide array of topics within her thought provoking journey among family, friends, random acquaintances, and sometimes suspicious strangers as she ventures back to the land of her birth. There has been so much talk about "women's issues" in Afghanistan among politicians and non-Afghan activists, yet it's refreshing to read the thoughts and concerns of actual Afghan women from all walks of life, grandmothers to tough anti-narcotics cops. Opium Nation will hopefully encourage readers to examine both the pros and cons of opium eradication policies and the wider global drug war based on Nawa's interviews with and stories about the Afghans on the ground who are either adversely affected by addiction, extortion, and selective law enforcement as well as those for whom small-time growing and dealing means food on the table and a little extra money for "legitimate" purposes.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Read Dec 14 2011
By Maryam - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Opium Nation is an excellent read about the side of the opium/heroin drug business we don't often think about in the West - its inception in Afghanistan.

I agree with a lot of what the other reviewers say here about the book providing much needed insight into the workings of the drug trade and the lives it impacts. But what really stood out for me were the descriptions of the lives of girls and women in Afghanistan - they aren't always what you might expect. From stories of girls' lives growing up in war - to female drug smugglers and addicts - to politicians and anti-narcotics officers - to the author's own story as an Afghan-American woman returning there - these narratives flesh out what is often missing in accounts of Afghanistan - the diverse and fascinating lives of women there.

Hands down, this is the best book I have read on the subject of the Afghan drug trade. And in addition to being very informative, it's a really enjoyable book to read. You'll find your mind turning to the people whose lives Nawa recounts well after you have finished reading the book. To me, that's the mark of a good book. I recommend Opium Nation to anyone who is curious about Afghan society and wants to better understand the role of the drug trade in modern day Afghanistan.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... Absolutely engaging, witty, and thoroughly accessible. Nov. 8 2011
By Jessie Sandoval - Published on Amazon.com
Fariba Nawa: writes beautifully and sincerely, recreating her earliest memories from Afghanistan, during the Soviet occupation-- gracefully weaving together intimate, personal family history, with the experiences of a child growing up inside a very close loving family, surrounded by pomegranate orchards, inside the ancient walls of a once, great Medieval city, and surviving the deafening sounds, and graphic imagery of gunfire, and violent resistance. Nawa writes with the precision and shrewdness of a veteran journalist, tying together biography, politics, and history, in a way that I find absolutely engaging, witty, and thoroughly accessible.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clear insight into the complexity of Afghanistan Dec 12 2011
By Yama Rahimi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fariba Nawa gives a personal perspective to her troubled homeland which continues its struggle to find peace due to its strategic location for trouble. It's a heartbreaking tale that needs to be told by those who experienced it that you will never see in the news. The book is a must read for anybody who wants to understand Afghanistan, its people and the problem it faces which is currently rooted in drugs which has ravaged the country in every possible way. In order to solve the problems of Afghanistan, you have to know its history which both US administrations has failed to comprehend. Nawa gives a voice to the poor and innocent victims of the drug war that are forgotten in the process.

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