Cover image for The politics of heroin : CIA complicity in the global drug trade, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Central America, Colombia
The politics of heroin : CIA complicity in the global drug trade, Afghanistan, Southeast Asia, Central America, Colombia
McCoy, Alfred W.
Personal Author:
Revised edition, second revised edition.
Publication Information:
Chicago, Ill. : Lawrence Hill Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 709 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm
Sicily : home of the Mafia -- Marseille : America's heroin laboratory -- Opium for the natives -- Cold War opium boom -- South Vietnam's heroin traffic -- Hong Kong : Asia's heroin laboratory -- The Golden Triangle -- War on drugs -- The CIA's covert wars.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HV5822.H4 M33 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nearly 20 years ago, McCoy wrote The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia , which stirred up considerable controversy, alleging that the CIA was intimately involved in the Vietnamese opium trade. In the current volume, a substantially updated and longer work, he argues that pk the situation basically hasn't changed over the past two decades; however the numbers have gotten bigger. McCoy writes, ``Although the drug pandemic of the 1980s had complex causes, the growth in global heroin supply could be traced in large part to two key aspects of U.S. policy: the failure of the DEA's interdiction efforts and the CIA's covert operations.'' He readily admits that the CIA's role in the heroin trade was an ``inadvertent'' byproduct of ``its cold war tactics,'' but he limns convincingly the path by which the agency and its forebears helped Corsican and Sicilian mobsters reestablish the heroin trade after WW II and, most recently, ``transformed southern Asia from a self-contained opium zone into a major supplier of heroin.'' Scrupulously documented, almost numbingly so at times, this is a valuable corrective to the misinformation being peddled by anti-drug zealots on both sides of the aisle. First serial to the Progressive. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

It seems that the American government has learned nothing from its war on drugs. In 1972, the CIA attempted to suppress McCoy's classic work, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia ( LJ 11/15/72 ) , which charged CIA complicity in the narcotics trade as part of its cold war tactics. Now, this revised and expanded edition, incorporating 20 years of research, discusses in almost overwhelming detail how U.S. drug policies and actions in the Third World has created ``America's heroin plague.'' McCoy notes that every attempt at interdiction has only resulted in the expansion of both the production and consumption of drugs. He also charges that 40 years of CIA protection of Asian drug traffickers and active participation in the transport of opium and heroin has undermined U.S. anti-drug efforts. A massive work that raises serious questions. For larger public and academic libraries.-- Wilda Williams, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.