William Grimes in the New York Times Book Review:
Joel Hafvenstein returned to Afghanistan in late 2004 armed with nothing but good intentions. Employed by Chemonics, a private company with a contract from the United States Agency for International Development, he was part of a team trying to discourage cultivation of the opium poppy by providing an alternative income for poor farmers.
Within months the mission was in disarray, its American workers huddled in a fortified bunker after eight of its Afghan employees had been murdered. The next year’s poppy harvest would be the largest on record.
The sobering dispatches in “Opium Season,” a wrenching account of lofty hopes and bitter disappointments, shed a dismal light on American efforts to improve the lot of ordinary Afghans.