Documentary filmmaker Feiling delivers a harrowing treatise on the seemingly invincible cocaine industry.
The author makes an important contribution to the general understanding of this popular stimulant by dispensing the history and lore surrounding the mythical coca leaf and addressing abuse, transport and policy issues alongside hopeful solutions. Cocaine’s ascent to popularity is accentuated by the mention of Abraham Lincoln’s purchase of a coca wine product called “Cocoaine” in 1860, along with the rise of the euphorically addictive “Mariani wine.” Surprisingly, writes Feiling, it was alcohol consumption that worried officials most as it widely surpassed cocaine in becoming the No. 1 “terrible threat” to the general public. The emergence and attractiveness of smoking crack cocaine is attributed to the drug’s triple threat of availability, affordability and “the most intense sense of being alive the user will ever enjoy.” Feiling scrutinizes drug policies, anti-drug initiatives, stringent sanctions and prohibition tactics with crisp, insightful rhetoric, commenting that while the “primordial conflict between good and evil” waged between police and drug traffickers is honorable and necessary, its efficacy remains questionable. The author notes that the countless American agencies charged with curtailing the drug’s interchange have created “institutionalized buck-passing on a global scale.” The drug’s infiltration into schools and workplaces poses a threat, as well, to an emerging generation, damaging economic stability as much, Feiling contends, as the legalization mentality does. The author’s travels to Colombia, Mexico, America and Jamaica provide a panoramic view of the many locales where cocaine is processed, shipped and negotiated. Feiling also includes interviews with drug dealers, cocaine addicts, traffickers and law-enforcement officials, all of whom have varying opinions on cocaine’s effect on the national psyche.
An arresting, fact-laden crash course on one of America’s recreational drugs of choice.