“Haunting, compelling, surprising in its truths and ultimately deeply humanizing. Opium Nation gives the layperson a degree of insight into the human side of Afghanistan’s drug trade that seems to be rare even in specialized circles. The humanity Nawa gives Afghanistan’s people is unparalleled. She is a true journalist, grounding the shocking figures behind the opium trade and Afghanistan’s 30 plus years of turmoil through stories that stick. The children, women and men in Nawa’s writing are honored with three dimensional realities rather than romanticized stereotypes. Few reporters can claim the Afghan roots, built-in cultural knowledge and sheer bravery that Nawa demonstrates. The complexities of a drug trade that supports as well as harms its people are revealed with intelligence. I was riveted and am altered by Nawa’s book. A rare find, and one well worth sharing.”
“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.”
“Opium Nation truly captures the essence of Afghanistan that Americans know little about outside of war reports on the nightly news. Author Fariba Nawa effectively holds the reader’s attention from the first page to the last as she returns to the homeland she left as young child. Combining her knowledge and expertise as seasoned reporter with touching personal memories, Nawa examines the effects of the opium trade on Afghanistan’s people, in particular, the women, including young Darya whose story will haunt the reader. Part touching memoir, part hardcore investigative journalism, Opium Nation is a must-read book.”
“I started reading it yesterday, on a long journey home through a holiday traffic jam, it was the most interesting and enjoyable part of my 6 1/2 hour ride home from NY. I could not put it down, Fariba’s journey, hopes, aspirations and disappointment felt like my own and I shared in the emotions and bittersweetness she decribes so well.
“Opium Nation is a page turner. I read it in three days. It should be made into a movie because it’s about an Afghan-American woman and her journey across Afghanistan and its dangerous drug trail. The characters she talks about are beautiful and ugly, some victims, others strong women who survive in the heroin trade. The main character is Darya, whose fate will make you wonder why you ever complained about life.”
“The book is alive with endless detail, emotion, personalities and reality of today’s Afghanistan.”
“Well written by this woman who once lived in this country and left her heart there. I feel for her. Only she could have written this epic tale of greed and corruption. Our crazy, power hungry U.S. politicians should read it before tossing $millions in aid to a corrupt regime. Unforgettable.”
“Ms. Nawa’s years of undercover work documents the Afghan drug trade and those senior US and Afghan government and business people who profit by it and protect it. This book should be required reading by the key decision makers in Washington because they will find themselves indicted by their own wrong decisions. Recognition of this erroneous US policy would be a huge step on the road to finding some workable solution to protect the future of Afghanistan.”
“This gripping tale is spun around the life stories of people like you and me, parents and children, people who have worked hard and seen hard times. That struck me the most, the universality of the situations that affect all of us and how they can overwhelm. I have read several books on Afghanistan and am relatively familiar with the drug trade there and how it affects people but Ms Nawa’s book brought the complicated reality home in a way others did not. She writes very well and has crafted a carefully researched and fascinating read. I highly recommend it.”
“This is one of the most touching yet informative book I’ve read about Afghanistan in a while. Probably at the top of my favorite books about Afghanistan. I think the books takes the audience on a journey that few foreign journalists or Afghan journalist could take them on. Many of the books I’ve read about Afghanistan are either the account of a foreigner introducing the country to other foreigners as he/she learns the country on a few-month-long trip or an Afghan attempting to convey the emotions of the people and the gravity of the situation to the foreigner.
In both cases, the problem is how to take an alien nation to the foreigner and render it familiar. Ms. Nawa has been brilliant in fixing that “lost in translation” problem because she’d spent time in Afghanistan when was young, grew up in the United States and then spent years and years back in Afghanistan. She’s well aware of both the Western and the Afghan psyche and her book shows it. I don’t see this as an ordinary book. It’s part memoir, part introduction to an alien culture, part the suffering of the population through the wars, all woven around the menace that is the drug trade. A little bit for everyone and a whole lot for those of us interested in finding out how drugs have changed both Afghan and Western lives.
Of course, this is not a book for people who know absolutely nothing about Afghanistan and need to pick up an encyclopedia or google for a few minutes to know a few details. For me the best part of the book is that it explores the people of Afghans on a very intimate level – something I’ve seldom seen in a book about the country written before. So if you get slightly confused about a few details, trust me, a few minutes on google won’t hurt. Adding everything in a book that wants to explore such deep issues would require over a 1,000 pages.
“This book really helped me understand Afghanistan and the people who live there. This was a painful book to read sometimes and I admire the author very much for her courage and clear vision.”
“Great read. Thoroughly captivating book. The author has done a phenomenal job in walking the reader through her journeys into Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, searching for herself and Daria. Fearless in her writing, Fariba has done an exceptional job of portraying her soul searching sojourn along with the nail biting episodes of escaping the Taliban in her quest to find a child bride. Kudos! Wished there was a map though, to follow along with her journey.”
“Started a book club with my best amiga. Hesitant at first by this book decision, but changed my tone quickly. The book heads north, south, east, west, and finally straight into your core and makes you re-examine what ‘really’ matters in life. Family.”
“This is not the easiest book you’ll read — some of the scenes and stories are pretty graphic – but it is perhaps the most important book you’ll read this year. Although a gifted fact-based journalist writer, Fariba is at her best when telling personal stories about her experiences and her family.”
“A very insightful book and gives a vivid description of some of the issues facing Afghanistan. This book inspired me to do a painting named, ‘Where the Poppies Bloom,’ which depicts the nexus between heroin and war.