Opium Season: A Year on the Afghan Frontier

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9781599216218: Opium Season: A Year on the Afghan Frontier
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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 of The Places In Between and The Kite Runner, OPIUM SEASON describes the odyssey of an American chasing a seemingly impossible goal in the midst of chaos. With an author's afterward considering developments in Afghanistan since the book's hardcover publication in 2007, it will draw national attention from the media and from book readers hungry to understand this shattered, beautiful country and its deeply divided people.

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Review:

"A wrenching account of lofty hopes and bitter disappointments."--The New York Times "One of the best books written about modern Afghanistan."--Asia Times "Laden with urgent information and stinging political insights."-- Booklist "His personal narrative gracefully introduces this complex and troubled land."-- Publishers Weekly "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, Library Journal

From the Back Cover:

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 world's opium trade. He was running an American-funded aid program to help opium poppy farmers make a legal living, and to win hearts and minds. At the height of his team's success, the Taliban attacked, killing his colleagues and destroying their work. This heralded a Taliban resurgence across the country and exposed weaknesses in America's strategy that continue to this day. Opium Season is a riveting story of intrigue, adventure, and tragedy. Written in the tradition of The Places In Between and The Kite Runner, it fully captures the odyssey of a young American chasing a seemingly impossible goal in the midst of chaos at the far edge of the world.|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 world's opium trade. He was running an American-funded aid program to help opium poppy farmers make a legal living, and to win hearts and minds. At the height of his team's success, the Taliban attacked, killing his colleagues and destroying their work. This heralded a Taliban resurgence across the country and exposed weaknesses in America's strategy that continue to this day.Opium Season is a riveting story of intrigue, adventure, and tragedy. Written in the tradition ofThe Places In Between and The Kite Runner, it fully captures the odyssey of a young American chasing a seemingly impossible goal in the midst of chaos at the far edge of the world.

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