Opium Nation

Fariba Nawa (Author)


When she was just nine years old, Fariba Nawa and her family fled Afghanistan, escaping the Soviet invasion, the last proxy of the Cold War. She settled in the United States and did not return to her homeland until 2000, after nearly two decades in exile. The country she found upon her return was dramatically different than the Afghanistan of her youth, and she saw firsthand that the reality for most Afghans was now grim. Nawa was particularly struck when she met a twelve-old-girl bartered as a bride to settle her father's opium debt. With connections to both American officials and ex-pats as well as her Afghan relatives and friends, Nawa embarked on a journey across the country to investigate the drug trade that has come to define so much of Afghanistan's economy and society.

In Opium Nation, Nawa delivers a searing account of the opium business, worth billions of dollars worldwide. She travels across Afghanistan gathering remarkable stories of people, while also reflecting on the bitter changes which have come to pass in the land of her ancestors after decades of war. Along the way she encounters poppy farmers, betrayed and abandoned women and children, drug lords, smugglers, addicts, and a sundry of characters that give students a daring and insightful picture of a volatile country whose future and security is of grave importance to America.--Firoozeh Dumas, author of Laughing Without an Accent and Funny in Farsi

Product Details

Harper Perennial
Publish Date
November 08, 2011
5.33 X 8.04 X 0.9 inches | 0.01 pounds
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About the Author

Fariba Nawa has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, The Sunday Times Magazine (London), Newsday, and the Village Voice. She has been a guest on CBS's 48 Hours as well as numerous other television and radio shows on NPR, the BBC, MTV, and NBC. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two daughters.


"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