|About the Book|
Gerald L. Posner published the edition I read of this book in the late eighties. For me, reading it was a pleasure. It is hard to believe, but there is something attractive about an era when the drug gangs mostly killed each other, as news arrives today that the Zetas have for the fourth time killed a blogger and/or Twitter-user. Not that the Triads are blameless- Posner tracks the whole modern heroin manufacturing and transportation system from its origins in the Golden Triangle of Nothern Burma (among the traders were remnants of Chiang Kai-Sheks army) through the money networks of Hong Kong (then under British control) to Holland or the U.S. He wrote at a time when the Afghans were still busy fighting the Russians, and the Colombians, not the Mexicans, were hemispheric enemy number one, so the Golden Triangle has been basically underbid by concerns closer to the big markets. Still, Posner has a lot to talk about. He pinpoints the origin of the Triads as patriotic resistance groups against the foreign Qing dynasty that lost their purpose when that dynasty fell. He also pinpoints the origins of the opium trade among the British in India and the French in Southeast Asia--he argues that Dien Bien Phu, the French Waterloo in Viet Nam, was the result of hill tribes dissatisfied what they earned from French intelligence. (He notes the protection and support that the U.S. ally Taiwan gave to heroin traders. He teases out the role that American GIs had not only in making addicts out of fellow soldiers but in flooding the market at home (some of the drugs came home in military coffins). He visits the Walled City of Hong Kong, probably the densest place on earth, where 50,000 poor people lived in largely subterranean conditions. (Originally the fort of a long-vanshed dynasty, it finally fell victim to Hong Kongs real estate boom and was razed). He teases out the relations with the U.S. Tongs, and the flow of money everywhere, along with the ancillary vices, more devoted to gambling that prostitution, although Posner doesnt dwell much on human trafficking.