An offbeat but deeply researched look at the negative effects of recreational weed use.



A debut nonfiction book warns against the underreported health risks of marijuana use.

One of the successes of the weed legalization movement has been to persuade the public that marijuana is not the boogeyman that decades of anti-drug campaigns have made it out to be. But weed activists have been so successful that the documented health risks associated with recreational marijuana use are not widely known or discussed. “There is growing evidence that because weed is being legalized, people think that marijuana is safe for everyone,” writes Becker in his introduction. “This is simply not true. If you only get your information from the internet, you are getting a mashup of myths, facts, self-promotion, confirmation bias, opinion, and marketing.” With this book, the author seeks to advise consumers (particularly young ones) on the current state of medical research regarding the potentially harmful side effects that marijuana use can cause. He walks readers through the wealth of scientific information already available, demonstrating the ways that marijuana can have deleterious effects on the brain, mental health conditions, pregnancy, the cardiovascular system, and other parts of the body. He also discusses the negative societal impacts of recreational weed use, including on educational achievement, employment, and car accidents. Becker’s prose does not channel the stereotypical stoner suggested by the title, though it is informal and idiosyncratic: “The human brain is generally thought to be the most complex organ in the human body. Dolphins and elephants also have complex brains and, in fact, have bigger brains than we do, so don’t go around being all superior and such.” He lays out his politics early in the volume—he supports decriminalization and medicalization, but not “Budweiser-ization”—and he meticulously cites his sources. (The reference notes themselves number 95 pages.) The book includes some delightfully trippy illustrations by Hopkins, like a fetus inside a bong. The work is more serious and less scolding than the title implies, though it is perhaps an unlikely vehicle for reaching the young consumers the author hopes to save.

An offbeat but deeply researched look at the negative effects of recreational weed use.

Pub Date: March 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73675-210-4

Page Count: 222

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.


The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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