Bitter, brownish and sticky, opium - the sap of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum - has been cultivated from the earliest of times. Known to the Greeks as opos or opion, as afiun in Persian and Arabic, and Fu-yung in Chinese, it is a substance that is at once both a palliative and a poison. Its exotic origins, its literary associations and the properties that were frequently, if erroneously, attributed to it have ensured the continuing air of mystery that has long surrounded it. In 'Opium', Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy reveals the fascinating history of this powerful and addictive drug and its long association with civilisation down the centuries. He explores the changing fortunes of the modern day trade in illicit opium, especially in the remote and inaccessible regions of Asia known as the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent, the major opium-producing areas of the world today. He reveals how, when and why illicit opium production emerged, what sustains it, and why a century of global measures has failed to eradicate it.
The result is a compelling account of our continuing fascination with a narcotic as old as humanity itself and a powerful insight into the complexities and difficulties of the politics and economics of the poppy in Asia and the world today.
Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy is a leading specialist in the politics of illicit drugs in Asia. He received his doctorate from the University of the Sorbonne and is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He presented the opening speech at the G-8 special meeting in Paris on drug routes in Central Asia.