An arresting, fact-laden crash course on one of America’s recreational drugs of choice.




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.

Pub Date: July 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-60598-101-7

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Borderland/Ivan Dee

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2010

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


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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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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