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The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade Paperback – May 1, 2003

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Review

“A fascinating, often meticulous unraveling of the byzantine complexities of the Southeast Asia drug trade . . . a pioneering book.”  —The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Alfred W. McCoy is a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He holds a doctorate in southeast Asian history from Yale University and is the recipient of the 2001 Goodman Prize from the Association for Asian Studies. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity In The Global Drug trade (Revised Edition)
  • Paperback: 734 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; Revised edition edition (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556524838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556524837
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,389 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By PEREMHERU on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Subject, Methods, Database:
A historical study of the opium and heroin trade and its political context, based on primary and secondary sources, including interviews with some of the key players of the developments in Indochina in the 1950s through 1970s.

Content:
The book falls into four main parts. Following a preface that illuminates the fascinating story behind the story and a brief introduction on the history of heroin, the first part deals with the cross-Atlantic heroin trade from the 1940s through 1970s, with special emphasis on the Mafia and Marseille based Corsican syndicates. The second part, taking up some 300 out of 530 pages (not counting the notes), describes in great detail the development of the Asian opium trade from colonial times up to the end of the Vietnam War. In the third section McCoy critically reviews the U.S. wars on drug from Nixon to Clinton, while the fourth part specifically addresses the question of CIA involvement in drug trafficking in the context of covert warfare in Afghanistan and Nicaragua during the 1980s and 1990s.
Opium had become a major commodity in world trade before it was outlawed early in the 20th century as a result of increased medical awareness of addiction and a global temperance movement. Prohibition drove opium into an illicit economy eventually controlled by upland drug lords and urban crime syndicates. By the late 1990s, 180 million people, or 4.2 percent of the world's adult population, were using illicit drugs worldwide, including 13.5 million for opiates, 14 million for cocaine, and 29 million for amphetamines.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By TLR on October 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
McCoy was a PhD from Yale, a scholar in Asian history teaching at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia was widely ignored by mainstream reviewers of the time because of its linking drug lords to US military-intelligence men. Much of the information in the book came from interviews with eyewitnesses.

US support of anti-communists in Asia, who often financed their activities through poppy, opium and heroin growing and manufacturing, led to this situation. It really began in WWII, when mobsters like Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese were let out of jail to help the US invasion of Sicily, and then to keep the unions in southern France out of the hands of the Communists in the post-war years. The latter focused on the port city of Marseille, which soon became a center of heroin refining and exporting (the "French Connection). In the '50s, the Shah of Iran put a stop to the massive poppy industry in that country. Some of the remnants of Chiang Kai-shek's troops fled into the jungles of Burma after their defeat by the Communists; the US pressured Burma into allowing those troops to stay there, and the CIA began supplying them with Company airlines (Civil Air Transport and Sea Supply Corporation, which soon became Air America).

The KMT troops in Burma grew opium to finance themselves, while they used US arms and sometimes CIA planes to fly the opium out to Thailand or Taiwan. The drug center of the region was the town of Chiang Mai in northwest Thailand. The commander of the Thai police, Gen. Phao, was in on the racket and was the CIA's man in that country. In the '50s, heroin became a major problem in the US.
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Most strongly recommended this publication for mature American adults looking for facts. Most strongly recommended to ID State Crimes. Most strongly recommend for an insight to the BIG picture. For me, this outstanding work IS one of the top 5 publications I've discovered all while traveling through the rabbit hole of discovery. It all leads back here!

Alfred McCoy Studied at Columbia, the University of California-Berkeley, and Yale, where he received a Ph.D. in the history of Southeast Asia. He has written extensively on the region and on U.S. covert operations, including torture and Impunity, Policing America's Empire, A Question of Torture, and The Politiccs of Heroin. He is now the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The path I have been following has lead me here as one of the connections associated with the events of 9/11. I read this publication specifically trying to understand about the relationship of the CIA, ISI, the mutaheddin, the Taliban, al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan and how these elements tied into the tragic events of 9/11 from a source not necessary intent as 9/11 as the primary subject. This profound publication was not in response to 9/11 where as it was already published in 1972 that has been updated, to present the global drug trade with Heroin and the connection with the CIA. Even so, this publication is the proof that the 9/11 commission report was sorely lacking a full accounting, and this profound publication proves that. The 9/11 commission report noted on Page 56, "The international environment for bin Ladin's efforts was ideal. Saudi Arabia and the United States supplied billions of dollars worth of secret assistance to rebel groups in Afghanistan.
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