Poppy: Trails of Afghan Heroin
By Paul Loomis for ASX, November, 2012
The list of locations and scope of coverage in Poppy: Trails of Afghan Heroin is comprehensive. Poppy claims to trace the Afghan the entire recent history of the opium trade, to describe trafficking routes and opium’s impact on millions of people. It claims to do all of this on an enormous scale; across 13 countries and with more than 17 years of on-the-ground reportage. This massive project is allegedly accomplished by only two people: Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong. However, the book delivers on its promise. Knoth and de Jong’s photographs and text reveal complex networks of clandestine commerce with skill, sensitivity, and compassion.
The the book begins in Afghanistan, where desperate poverty coupled with a corrupt political environment allow the country to produce 93% of the world’s opium and gain 54% of its GDP from trading it, usually after it has been refined into heroin.