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The Politics of Heroin in S.E. Asia, first published in 1972, was a landmark book on the heroin trade, and easily one of the most insightful books ever written on the subject. Dr Alfred McCoy is revered by journalists and fellow researchers alike, and continues to write superbly on the difficult subject of the heroin trade.

His first book on the subject was followed by The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade. Here the world’s foremost expert on the subject explains how heroin is behind the multi-faceted disaster which is the war in Afghanistan.

After fighting the longest war in its history, the US stands at the brink of defeat in Afghanistan. How could this be possible? How could the world’s sole superpower have battled continuously for more than 16 years – deploying more than 100,000 troops at the conflict’s peak, sacrificing the lives of nearly 2,300 soldiers, spending more than $1tn (£740bn) on its military operations, lavishing a record $100bn more on “nation-building”, helping fund and train an army of 350,000 Afghan allies – and still not be able to pacify one of the world’s most impoverished nations? So dismal is the prospect of stability in Afghanistan that, in 2016, the Obama White House cancelled a planned withdrawal of its forces, ordering more than 8,000 troops to remain in the country indefinitely.

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