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 from Kandahar and Helmand to Herat and Kabul gathering remarkable stories of people, while also returning to her family's ancestral home and reflecting on the bitter changes which have come to pass 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 us a daring and insightful picture of a volatile country whose future and security is of grave importance to America, and the people within its borders.