86 books like Poppies, Politics, and Power

By James Tharin Bradford,

Here are 86 books that Poppies, Politics, and Power fans have personally recommended if you like Poppies, Politics, and Power. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of My Life with the Taliban

Phil Halton Author Of Blood Washing Blood: Afghanistan's Hundred-Year War

From my list on the War in Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

Phil Halton has worked in conflict zones around the world as an officer in the Canadian Army and as a security consultant and has extensive experience in Afghanistan. He is the author of two novels and a history. He holds a Master's Degree in Defence Studies from Royal Military College of Canada, and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College. 

Phil's book list on the War in Afghanistan

Phil Halton Why did Phil love this book?

There are few books available in English that describe the Taliban’s point of view, not just of the war, but of the many years leading up to it. Mullah Zaeef was a senior member of the Taliban government before the US invasion, and he explains a lot of the thinking behind the Taliban’s decisions and policies. Perhaps more importantly, he tells his own life story, which makes those decisions relatable on a human level. A very readable autobiography.

By Abdul Salam Zaeef,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Life with the Taliban as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Abdul Zaeef describes growing up in poverty in rural Kandahar province, which he fled for Pakistan after the Russian invasion of 1979. Zaeef joined the jihad in 1983, was seriously wounded in several encounters and met many leading figures of the resistance, including the current Taliban head, Mullah Mohammad Omar. Disgusted by the lawlessness that ensued after the Soviet withdrawal, Zaeef was one among the former mujahidin who were closely involved in the emergence of the Taliban, in 1994. He then details his Taliban career, including negotiations with Ahmed Shah Massoud and role as ambassador to Pakistan during 9/11. In…


Book cover of Poetry of the Taliban

Phil Halton Author Of Blood Washing Blood: Afghanistan's Hundred-Year War

From my list on the War in Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

Phil Halton has worked in conflict zones around the world as an officer in the Canadian Army and as a security consultant and has extensive experience in Afghanistan. He is the author of two novels and a history. He holds a Master's Degree in Defence Studies from Royal Military College of Canada, and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College. 

Phil's book list on the War in Afghanistan

Phil Halton Why did Phil love this book?

The Taliban have long used poetry as a means of disseminating their messages, and their website features work in many different languages. Poetry has a very long tradition in Afghanistan, and so while the Taliban have tapped into this cultural current, it would be wrong to dismiss all of the poetry written (or even published) by the Taliban as mere propaganda. The poems in this work provide insight into the hearts and minds of Taliban fighters, who long for peace and for a multitude of things lost in war, who celebrate victories and lament defeats. A very human view of what are often seen as a faceless enemy.

By Felix Kuehn, Alex Strick Van Linschoten,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Poetry of the Taliban as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Taliban are synonymous with the war in Afghanistan. Doughty, uncompromising fighters, they plant IEDs, deploy suicide bombers and wage guerrilla warfare. While much has been written about their military tactics, media strategy and harsh treatment of women, the cultural and sometimes less overtly political representation of their identity, the Taliban's other face, is often overlooked. Most Taliban fighters are Pashtuns, a people who cherish their vibrant poetic tradition, closely associated with that of song. The poems in this collection are meant to be recited and sung; and this is the manner in which they are enjoyed by the wider…


Book cover of An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict, 1978-2012

Phil Halton Author Of Blood Washing Blood: Afghanistan's Hundred-Year War

From my list on the War in Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

Phil Halton has worked in conflict zones around the world as an officer in the Canadian Army and as a security consultant and has extensive experience in Afghanistan. He is the author of two novels and a history. He holds a Master's Degree in Defence Studies from Royal Military College of Canada, and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College. 

Phil's book list on the War in Afghanistan

Phil Halton Why did Phil love this book?

Martin was a British Army officer who learned to speak fluent Pashto, and spent long hours talking with and gaining the trust of various players in Helmand Province. Based on those discussions, he has put together the only oral history of the conflict there available in any language. By starting in 1978, he clearly shows that the fighting thirty years later had much deeper roots, and that more often than not, the causes of conflict were not apparent to Western eyes.

By Mike Martin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Intimate War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'An Intimate War' tells the story of the last thirty-four years of conflict in Helmand Province, Afghanistan as seen through the eyes of the Helmandis. In the West, this period is often defined through different lenses -- the Soviet intervention, the civil war, the Taliban, and the post-2001 nation-building era. Yet, as experienced by local inhabitants, the Helmand conflict is a perennial one, involving the same individuals, families and groups, and driven by the same arguments over land, water and power.

This book -- based on both military and research experience in Helmand and 150 interviews in Pashto -- offers…


Book cover of The Hidden War: A Russian Journalist's Account of the Soviet War in Afghanistan

Phil Halton Author Of Blood Washing Blood: Afghanistan's Hundred-Year War

From my list on the War in Afghanistan.

Why am I passionate about this?

Phil Halton has worked in conflict zones around the world as an officer in the Canadian Army and as a security consultant and has extensive experience in Afghanistan. He is the author of two novels and a history. He holds a Master's Degree in Defence Studies from Royal Military College of Canada, and a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Humber College. 

Phil's book list on the War in Afghanistan

Phil Halton Why did Phil love this book?

Borovik was a very well-known journalist in Russia, whose work gives an inside view of the Soviet military machine in Afghanistan. Far from being the all-powerful monolith that it is often portrayed as, Borovik shows the human aspect of war with unblinking candor. Although it is a journalistic account of what he saw and experienced, his writing elevates the subject to the level of literature. The misery and shattered idealism of the defeated Soviet soldiers resonates today.

By Artyom Borovik,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hidden War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a record of the author's experiences during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. He lived and travelled with the Russian soldiers, went into combat with them and shared the terror, helplessness and despair of waging war in a foreign land against an unseen enemy for unclear purposes. The book also explains how and why Russian troops went into Afghanistan. It describes the drug problems, criminal behaviour and psychiatric disorders prevalent among veterans and concludes with an account of the Russian withdrawal and its aftermath.


Book cover of Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Tahira Rehmatullah Author Of Waiting to Inhale: Cannabis Legalization and the Fight for Racial Justice

From my list on social justice and the need for transformative change.

Why are we passionate about this?

As a duo, we’re a mix of things. For Akwasi, I’m a changemaker, professor, and academic. My work examines the intersections of race, crime, and criminal justice, and my current research spans criminal justice institutions and various aspects of drug legalization in Canada and beyond. For Tahira, my career has been less than linear, with experiences spanning the investment, cannabis, and consumer sectors as an investor and entrepreneur. I realized my forte lies in sitting in the middle, streamlining complexity, and remaining dedicated to the people who need help most. Together, we’re committed to shaping the future of business and policy by integrating diverse perspectives and lived experiences.

Akwasi and Tahira's book list on social justice and the need for transformative change

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Tahira Rehmatullah Why did Akwasi and Tahira love this book?

We’re drawn to books that tell real stories to help personify topics, and Dan’s book does just that. We thought it was gripping and intense, with great lines that we returned to highlight.

Although it was written in the 90s, the message still resonates, as well as the realization that the fights are long and hard but worth it.

By Dan Baum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Smoke and Mirrors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For sheer government absurdity, the War on Drugs is hard to beat. After three decades of increasingly punitive policies, illicit drugs are more easily available, drug potencies are greater, drug killings are more common, and drug barons are richer than ever. The War on Drugs costs Washington more than the Commerce, Interior, and State departments combined - and it's the one budget item whose growth is never questioned. A strangled court system, exploding prisons, and wasted lives push the cost beyond measure. What began as a flourish of campaign rhetoric in 1968 has grown into a monster. And while nobody…


Book cover of Marijuana Boom: The Rise and Fall of Colombia's First Drug Paradise

Chris S. Duvall Author Of The African Roots of Marijuana

From my list on the history of cannabis.

Why am I passionate about this?

I study people-plant relationships from perspectives including ecology, history, cultural studies, and biogeography. Cannabis is certainly the most famous plant I’ve studied. A decade ago I was researching how Africans used an obscure tree in historical Central America, and came across accounts of cannabis use that surprised me. As I dug into cannabis history, I was continually amazed at how little the topic has been researched. It’s a great time to start learning about the plant’s past, because it’s a fresh, new field for professional academics. Cannabis has been portrayed so simplistically for decades, but in reality it’s a complex plant with a complicated history.

Chris' book list on the history of cannabis

Chris S. Duvall Why did Chris love this book?

The association between Colombia and cocaine is strong in popular culture, but the cocaine economy rose upon the country’s experience with marijuana production and trafficking starting in the 1970s. Britto completed remarkable research, on the ground with people who were involved in marijuana trading. This is one of a few books that offer such a window into the illegal world of cannabis.

By Lina Britto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marijuana Boom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before Colombia became one of the world's largest producers of cocaine in the 1980s, traffickers from the Caribbean coast partnered with American buyers in the 1970s to make the South American country the main supplier of marijuana for a booming US drug market, fueled by the US hippie counterculture. How did Colombia become central to the creation of an international drug trafficking circuit? Marijuana Boom is the story of this forgotten history. Combining deep archival research with unprecedented oral history, Lina Britto deciphers a puzzle: Why did the Colombian coffee republic, a model of Latin American representative democracy and economic…


Book cover of The Infiltrator: The True Story of One Man Against the Biggest Drug Cartel in History

Mara Leveritt Author Of The Boys on the Tracks: Death, Denial, and a Mother's Crusade to Bring Her Son's Killers to Justice

From my list on true crime books about cover-ups.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a longtime reporter in a small state with big politics, I’ve become fascinated by how sly intrusions of power can distort what should be routine police investigations. One of my sources observed, “Sometimes the cover-up is more interesting than the crime.” With that in mind, I began writing books to examine cases whose outcomes didn’t seem to make sense. It’s become a genre I call “crime after crime.”

Mara's book list on true crime books about cover-ups

Mara Leveritt Why did Mara love this book?

The movie based on this book featured the drama of Mazur’s undercover work as a U.S. Customs agent penetrating the money laundering behemoth known as BCCI, the bank that served crooks and governments around the world. What the film didn’t capture was the difficulty Mazur faced from federal officials who refused to act on the evidence he’d risked his life to obtain. After a state prosecuting attorney finally won indictments that brought down BCCI, Mazur testified that Department of Justice officials had ignored “hundreds of leads” that might have linked the institution to other cases of drug money, arms deals, and secret ownership of American banks.

By Robert Mazur,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Infiltrator as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The electrifying true story of Robert Mazur's life as an undercover agent who infiltrated one of the world's largest drug cartels by posing as a high-level money launderer -- the inspiration for the major motion picture The Infiltrator.

Robert Mazur spent years undercover infiltrating the Medellín Cartel's criminal hierarchy. The dirty bankers and businessmen he befriended -- some of whom still shape power across the globe -- knew him as Bob Musella, a wealthy, mob-connected big shot living the good life. Together they partied in $1,000-per-night hotel suites, drank bottles of the world's finest champagne, drove Rolls-Royce convertibles, and flew…


Book cover of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

Russell C. Crandall Author Of Drugs and Thugs: The History and Future of America's War on Drugs

From my list on what the war on drugs is really about.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over my two decades as a scholar of American foreign policy and international politics, I had multiple opportunities to serve as a Latin America foreign policy aide. Given that Latin America plays a central role in the U.S.-hatched modern war on drugs, much of my policymaking was directly or indirectly tied to drug policy. I thus wrote Drugs and Thugs above all to make sure that I had a good sense of the history of this seemingly eternal conflict, one that is “fought” as much at home as abroad. 

Russell's book list on what the war on drugs is really about

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

Hari’s Chasing the Scream is not an exhaustively researched book but it still merits listing given how viscerally the author addresses the history of the global war on drugs in the light of his own personal addiction. Hari shines in his depiction of circa 1930s U.S. Drug Cop #1, Henry J. Anslinger, who, among other dubious endeavors, sought to throw the book at jazz singer Billie Holiday, who also happened to be a heroin addict.  

By Johann Hari,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Chasing the Scream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times Bestseller

What if everything you think you know about addiction is wrong? Johann Hari's journey into the heart of the war on drugs led him to ask this question--and to write the book that gave rise to his viral TED talk, viewed more than 62 million times, and inspired the feature film The United States vs. Billie Holiday and the documentary series The Fix.

One of Johann Hari's earliest memories is of trying to wake up one of his relatives and not being able to. As he grew older, he realized he had addiction in his…


Book cover of Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel

Marcus Sedgwick Author Of Saint Death

From my list on the USA / Mexico border, drug cartels, and misery.

Why am I passionate about this?

I became passionate about the Mexico/US border question after meeting someone who is now a close friend, a Mexican academic who introduced me to some of the issues. She helped me write Saint Death as a way to explore the politics of ultra-capitalism, in the form of multinational business, and the action of drug cartels.

Marcus' book list on the USA / Mexico border, drug cartels, and misery

Marcus Sedgwick Why did Marcus love this book?

For a closer look at the way drug cartels work, Wainwright suggests we need to think of them in terms of big business, for that is what, underneath the extreme violence and horror, they are.

By Tom Wainwright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Narconomics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What drug lords learned from big businessHow does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the 300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola. And what can government learn to combat this scourge? By analyzing the cartels as companies, law enforcers might better understand how they work,and stop throwing away 100 billion a year in a futile effort to win the war" against this global,…


Book cover of El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency

Russell C. Crandall Author Of Drugs and Thugs: The History and Future of America's War on Drugs

From my list on what the war on drugs is really about.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over my two decades as a scholar of American foreign policy and international politics, I had multiple opportunities to serve as a Latin America foreign policy aide. Given that Latin America plays a central role in the U.S.-hatched modern war on drugs, much of my policymaking was directly or indirectly tied to drug policy. I thus wrote Drugs and Thugs above all to make sure that I had a good sense of the history of this seemingly eternal conflict, one that is “fought” as much at home as abroad. 

Russell's book list on what the war on drugs is really about

Russell C. Crandall Why did Russell love this book?

A work of intrepid journalism and sizzling writing, Grillo’s El Narco is the result of upwards of a decade following the mercurial, terrifying evolution of Mexico’s drug cartels. I’ve taught this book to my Davidson College students studying Latin American politics and they repeatedly tell me that it is their favorite book they tackle in the course. 

By Ioan Grillo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked El Narco as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'War' is no exaggeration in discussing the bloodshed that has terrorized Mexico in the past decades. As rival cartels battle for control of a billion-dollar drug trade, the body count- 23,000 dead in five years - and sheer horror beggar the imagination of journalistic witnesses. Cartel gunmen have shot up schools and rehabilitation centers, and murdered the entire families of those who defy them. Reformers and law enforcement officials have been gunned down within hours of taking office. Headless corpses are dumped on streets to intimidate rivals, and severed heads are rolled onto dancefloors as messages to would-be opponents. And…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the war on drugs, the illegal drug trade, and Afghanistan?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the war on drugs, the illegal drug trade, and Afghanistan.

The War On Drugs Explore 17 books about the war on drugs
The Illegal Drug Trade Explore 33 books about the illegal drug trade
Afghanistan Explore 88 books about Afghanistan