DRUG WARS by Tim Wells

DRUG WARS

An Oral History from the Trenches

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Junkies, dealers, narcs, and other combatants in the war on drugs speak out in this first-rate oral report from Wells (444 Days, 1985) and Triplett. Aiming to get the stories of those ``most intimately engaged on the front lines,'' the authors ``spent the last two years riding with undercover cops, and visiting jails, prisons, crack houses,'' etc. Here, that effort pays off handsomely with some truly riveting--and dismaying--reportage, tightly arranged into eight thematic chapters, each comprised of a brief introduction and several dozen statements, some signed, some anonymous. Even the innocuously titled opener, ``Recreational Users,'' makes your blood run cold as you listen to the woman who speaks of smoking pot for the first time at age nine (``I thought it was the neatest feeling in the world''); the Vietnam vet assigned to guard the White House (``I was stoned the entire time...''); the dealer who says that a crack high ``hits you with the force of religious revelation.'' And that's just for starters: The subsequent chapters (``Border Wars''; ``Dealers''; ``Cops''; ``Addiction''; ``Mean Streets''; ``Prosecution, Prison, and Punishment''; and ``Treatment'') detail moral pain (e.g., of the ravaged crack addict who runs into his mother: ``There was nothing but hurt in her eyes''); despair (e.g., of author Wells, who tells of visiting a shooting gallery and finding a little boy ``so filthy I didn't want to touch him''); and sociopathic violence (e.g., of the dealer who says, ``When a dude messed my money up, I'd cut him with a knife or I'd shoot him...You know, I had bills to pay'')--all so pervasive that you have to agree with the authors that ``the nation's drug enforcement policies have failed, and failed miserably.'' Smooth, smart, and very, very scary.

Pub Date: May 18th, 1992
ISBN: 0-688-09548-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1992




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