THE COCA LEAF AND COCAINE PAPERS by George & David Solomon--Eds. Andrews


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Both Andrews and Solomon are reputable, experienced dopers--Solomon having previously edited The Marijuana Papers (1966) and Andrews The Book of Grass (1967). This collection of essays, research reports and testimonials to the wonderful albeit mysterious properties of the coca leaf, honored as ""divine"" among the ancient Incas, takes great pains to differentiate between the plant, masticated by the Indians of the Andes as an all-purpose tonic and medicinal, and that most ""gourmet"" drug of the 1970's, cocaine. Cocaine is but one of 14 alkaloids derived from the coca plant; the pungent aromatic called cuskhygrine is still used as a ""flavoring agent"" by the Coca-Cola Corporation which, the editors suggest, may be one reason why things go better with coke. The ""papers"" collected here are largely disappointing--most date from the 19th century when pharmacological investigations of the coca shrub and its derivatives were just beginning. The longest piece here is William Golden Mortimer's 1901 classic Peru: History of Coca, valuable primarily as an anthropological document detailing the extensive reliance of the Indians on coca to allay hunger and thirst and to fight fatigue. A Rolling Stone piece on ""Cocaine Consciousness"" talks about the inflated prices, the silver spoons and other paraphernalia used by devotees and the pervasiveness of coke among rock musicians and other posh show biz types. An excerpt from Richard Woodley's 1971 Dealer glamorizes the ""flash"" of a Harlem coke pusher. The editors' own position seems to be that we should go back to the wholesome shrub and get away from the white powder that, according to the lore, will make your nose fall off. Not worth more than a quick snort.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1975
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich