STORMING HEAVEN: LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens
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STORMING HEAVEN: LSD and the American Dream

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this brilliant, exhaustively researched, and engaging work, free-lance journalist Stevens explores the hallucinogenic heart of that weird shiver in American history that was the 60's. Stevens digs deep here, tracing the roots of 60's drug/counterculture from the 1943 April afternoon when Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman first noted the inner-worldly effects of lyseric acid-25, up through the drug's adoption in the 50's by the cultural, psychological, and governmental elite (Cary Grant, Aldous Huxley, and Henry and Claire Booth Luce were enthusiasts, as was the CIA, which explored the drug by secretly dosing clients of a S.F. brothel) and into LSD's mass use during the 60's. Along the way, he offers incisive biographies of stars in the psychedelic firmament--from the Beats to media masters like Tim Leafy and Ken Kesey to more fleeting phenomena such as the Diggers and master LSD-brewer Augustus Owsley--all the white chronicling the struggle between those who, like Huxley, believed the drug to be a valuable spiritual tool to be disseminated primarily among the cultural aristocracy, and those who, like Leafy and Kesey, favored widespread use of hallucinogens. But Stevens' achievement here is more than to deliver a definitive history of the social effects of one drug. Perceptively, he demarks the two camps of rebellion in the 60's--the often anti-drug political activists and the usually pro-drug counterculturalists--and pinpoints the collapse of the 60's movement on the fundamental rift between the two. And, most provocatively, via his responsible approach to psychedelic experimentation, and via an update detailing the little-publicized but widespread current use in therapeutic circles of new psychedelics (Ecstasy, for instance), he offers an intelligent, considered reassessment of the healing potential of psychotropic substances. Exemplary history, compelling, and committed; of the current wave of books about the 60's, this one surely occupies the crest.

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 1987
ISBN: 0802135870
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly--dist. by Little, Brown