A colorful, involving account of decades of drug addiction.



A former heroin addict’s story of hitting rock bottom and finding a way back by unconventional means.

In his debut memoir, Auler describes in rich detail how, as he puts it, “I lost my soul by stages.” He details his youth during the 1960s, colorfully describing the campus of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst during the peak of hippie culture. He says that he always tried to maintain a balance between “Light” and “Darkness” in his inner life, which makes his description of his slow descent into drug addiction all the more gripping. While inquiring into the root cause of his migraines in his early 20s, he was diagnosed as “severely depressed and highly anxious.” He started abusing the Percodan that he was prescribed for his headaches and eventually descended into heroin and cocaine addiction. He found various methods of recovery, including methadone treatment, to be ineffective: “Our drug policy is outrageously out of touch with reality,” he writes. It’s only when he was at the edge of death that Auler heard about Iboga, which he describes as a “sacred shamanic plant medicine used by the Bwiti cult of the Fang peoples, found mainly in Gabon and Cameroon.” Through his own efforts and those of his support system, he arranged to take a drug derived from the plant, Ibogaine, at a facility on the island of St. Kitts. He says that the treatment changed his life: “Ibogaine detoxification is a powerful springboard with which to begin the journey of recovery,” he writes. The bulk of this book is a stark, memorable tour of more than two decades of heroin addiction, which Auler calls “a special kind of hell.” For the most part, his story markedly lacks a sense of hope, yet his narrative skill makes it a visceral read, as when he writes of reaching a point of drug toxicity that made him a kind of living ghost. His experiences will be familiar to readers of other drug-abuse memoirs, such as Jerry Stahl’s Permanent Midnight (1995) or Jim Carroll’s The Basketball Diaries (1978); they include overdoses, law enforcement encounters, serial abuse of friends’ and family members’ trust, and the deaths of other addicts. Still, he offers a harrowing and engrossing revelation of “the interior world of addiction.” For example, he begins the book by recalling the specific moment that he realized that he wasn’t in control of his drug use—and that it controlled him. He skillfully combines vivid description with an unflinching lack of sentimentality as he tells of scoring, hoarding, and dealing drugs while gradually succumbing to them. The most moving scenes are those that portray his final state, when he could no longer function—a living death of dope sickness. The book would have benefited from a stronger copy edit to catch some distracting typos: “The Hip Revolution was just breaking…like a tidal wave over the Establishment dykes when I enrolled.” However, the overall narrative is powerful and ultimately uplifting.

A colorful, involving account of decades of drug addiction.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4907-6528-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Trafford

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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