HEP-CATS, NARCS AND PIPE DREAMS

A HISTORY OF AMERICA'S ROMANCE WITH ILLEGAL DRUGS

A history detailing how, as a society, we have both used drugs and tried to suppress them. From Jonnes's sometimes numbing welter of facts a two-stranded history emerges. One strand follows major clusters of drug users, from the 19th-century ladies with their spiked elixirs, to impoverished, rootless men who became ``pleasure addicts'' after WW I, to young blacks who, excluded from postWW II, middle-class hopes of getting ahead, turned to drugs as a way to be hip, becoming ``deliberate outsiders''; to middle-class whites who took drugs mainstream in the '60s and '70s, with Hollywood adding an aura of glamour to it all. Another, largely separate narrative strand follows large-scale trafficking and our half- hearted efforts to stop it. Although Jonnes discusses criminals, notably Arnold Rothstein, who in the 1920s established a drug-supply system superseded only by that of the Colombian cartels in the 1970s, more fascinating is our government's ambivalence about trafficking. For years the Bureau of Narcotics was led by Harry J. Anslinger, who was more interested in seeming tough than getting results; he ignored corruption in his agency and discouraged scientific research into addiction. Meanwhile, high-level US cold warriors could overlook drug trafficking provided it was conducted by anti-communists, such as members of French military intelligence in Indochina in the 1950s or, more recently, the Contras in Nicaragua. Oddly, after recounting how governmental unreliability and corruption have compromised efforts to reduce addiction, Jonnes puts her faith in law enforcement to reduce the supply of drugs, a move she sees as crucial to long-term change. But the toughest question remains: Will a law-and-order approach produce results or just more Anslingers? Duller than a book on the ``romance'' of drugs should be; but still better on what has happened than on what to do about it. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-684-19670-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1996

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

NIGHT

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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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