It's been said before. . . that as far as drugs are concerned, one culture's sacrament is another's plague. . . that (with the notable exception of Mao's China) prohibition campaigns have never worked. Inglis traces many of our popular drugs--including coffee and tobacco--back to more primitive, shamanistic societies where their use was associated with ritual vision seeking. Europeans distrusted the visions, but imported the drugs for recreation, and despite the disapproval of the church and the establishment, their use spread rapidly, with public demand and high profits defeating all attempts at control. Unlike the more daring Thomas Szasz and Andrew Well, Inglis is content to admit our ignorance of the nature of addiction. This of course is the big question mark and as long as it remains unanswered the legalization Inglis favors is only a de facto solution. This overview of the historical literature does show that waves of drug dependency and drug scares seem to be built into modern society. It will give readers new to the subject some useful perspective even if it presents no original answers.