Catalogue


Opium season : a year on the Afghan frontier /
Joel Hafvenstein.
imprint
Guilford, Conn. : Lyons Press, c2007.
description
viii, 337 p.
ISBN
9781599211312
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Guilford, Conn. : Lyons Press, c2007.
isbn
9781599211312
catalogue key
6279689
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
Opium Season is the story of a young American working on the brutal fault line where the war on terror meets the war on drugs. Joel Hafvenstein didn't know what he was getting into when he signed up for a year in Afghanistan's rugged Helmand Province, the heart of the country's opium trade. He was running an American-funded aid program with two goals: to help tens of thousands of opium poppy farmers make a legal living, and to win hearts and minds away from the former Taliban government. The author and his friends were soon caught up in the deadly intrigues of Helmand's drug trafficking warlords. He found himself dodging Taliban in poppy-filled mountain ravines and arguing with murderous, AK-47 toting bandits in police uniform. He saw both the stark beauty and the terrible cruelty that Afghans live with every day. At the height of his team's success, the Taliban attacked, killing his colleagues and destroying their work. These ambushes heralded a Taliban resurgence across the country; they also showed the weaknesses in America's strategy that continue to undermine every American accomplishment in Afghanistan. This is a riveting story of intrigue, adventure, and tragedy at the far edge of the world. In the tradition of The Places In Between and The Kite Runner , Opium Season examines the odyssey of an American chasing a seemingly impossible goal in the midst of chaos and describes this shattered, beautiful country and its deeply divided people.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2007-10-01:
In May 2005, four employees of Chemonics International, a Washington, D.C.-based contractor with the U.S. Agency for International Development, were among 11 Afghans killed in two separate attacks on aid workers operating in Afghanistan's Helmand province. First-time author Hafvenstein was then a young administrator for Chemonics, having eagerly joined in 2003 a small team working on U.S.A.I.D.'s Alternative Incomes Project, aiming to create thousands of jobs building a new infrastructure to offset planned eradication of the opium poppy, the mainstay of the rural economy and the raw basis for heroin sold around the world. Beginning with the news of his colleagues' deaths, Hafvenstein retraces his rapid immersion into the deeply fractured and danger-strewn politics and society of post-Taliban Afghanistan. His personal narrative gracefully introduces this complex and troubled land, measuring the impact of warlordism and police corruption on what he comes to see as the ultimately misguided U.S. emphasis on poppy eradication. While that conclusion will hardly surprise those following the escalating violence since 2005, Hafvenstein offers a revealing if narrowly critical insider perspective on the workings of U.S.-sponsored international development schemes in Afghanistan and worldwide. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-01-01:
The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 has resulted in another wretched chapter in the recent history of that volatile country. Six years after the overthrow of its fundamentalist Taliban government, chaos and uncertainty characterize daily life there. Notwithstanding elections that have led to the establishment of a nominal central government in Kabul, the country continues to exhibit all the hallmarks of a failed state. The opium trade has once again become the most important source of revenue in Afghanistan, where a combination of opium growers and the so-called warlords exercise more political and socioeconomic control than do the country's elected officials and its government. This very readable and engaging book recounts the harshness of daily life in Afghanistan, as seen from the vantage point of an American who spent a year in the country's rugged Helmand province for an aid organization seeking to train farmers to cultivate other crops than opium. The author, who has published articles on Afghanistan, describes in a diary format his experience of violent political intrigue and criminal alliances resulting in the murderous drug trafficking, and the impossibility of his mission, in that country. Recommended for public libraries.--Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Booklist, October 2007
Publishers Weekly, October 2007
Library Journal, January 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
OPIUM SEASON is the story of a young American working on the brutal fault line where the war on terror meets the war on drugs. Joel Hafvenstein didn't know what he was getting into when he signed up for a year in Afghanistan's rugged Helmand province, the heart of the country's opium trade. He was running an American-funded aid program with two goals: to help tens of thousands of opium poppy farmers make a legal living, and to win hearts and minds away from the former Taliban government. The author and his friends were soon caught up in the deadly intrigues of Helmand'sdrug trafficking warlords. He found himself dodging Taliban in poppy-filled mountain ravines and arguing with murderous, AK-47 toting bandits in police uniform. He saw both the stark beauty and the terrible cruelty that Afghans live with every day. At the height of his team's success, the Taliban attacked, killing his colleagues and destroying their work. These ambushes heralded a Taliban resurgence across the country; they also showed the weaknesses in America's strategy that continue to undermine every American accomplishment in Afghanistan. This is a riveting story of intrigue, adventure, and tragedy at the far edge of the world. In the tradition ofThe Places In BetweenandThe Kite Runner,OPIUM SEASON describes the odyssey of an American chasing a seemingly impossible goal in the midst of chaos. It will draw national attention from the media and from book readers hungry to understand this shattered, beautiful country and its deeply divided people.
Back Cover Copy
A GOOD IDEA GONE TERRIBLY WRONG. "We're getting out, mate." Charles's composure was belied by the taut lines in his face and the two Afghan guards flanking him, their rifles unslung and ready. "Get your things. If what we're hearing from Zabul is true, we've been sitting here like bloody ducks for too long already." If true, the rumors from Zabul province confirmed that someone was trying to kill us, but we didn't yet know who: the struggling remnants of the Taliban, opium smugglers who found our work an inconvenience, or local militia commanders with some unknown grudge. We didn't know if they planned more attacks, or if they could strike us in the city of Lashkargah itself. So we were running. There was a small U.S. military outpost on the edge of town, next to the graveyard. By the afternoon our office and staff houses would be empty of everyone but guards, and our Western staff would be inside a bunker. From the Prologue

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem