An observant argument for understanding a society through the drugs it uses.

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LSD, ECSTASY, AND THE POWER TO HEAL

A well-respected journalist offers evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, about the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs.

The late comedian Bill Hicks, prone to taking what psychedelic bard Terence McKenna called “heroic doses” of mushrooms, used to refer to the use of drugs as “squeegeeing open your third eye.” In this cleareyed account, former Washington Post Magazine editor Shroder (Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence For Past Lives, 1999, etc.) explores both the complex history of the issue and the current thinking on the use of LSD, Ecstasy and other psychotropic substances for healing troubled minds. Thankfully, the author only briefly touches on the usual tropes—there’s a thoughtful chapter on Aldous Huxley’s introduction to LSD, after which he wrote, “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, Just take a pinch of psychedelic”—but Shroder skims over old stories about Ken Kesey, Owsley Stanley and Timothy Leary that have plagued authentic researchers for years. Instead, the author tells his complex story via three men: Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies; Michael Mithoefer, a former emergency room doctor whose interest in exploring his own mind led him to become a trauma psychologist; and Nick Blackston, a U.S. Marine whose war experiences are characteristic of the waves of soldiers returning from war with catastrophic PTSD. Occasionally, the stories are amusing: At one point, Doblin was being considered for an internship at the Food and Drug Administration. Upon being turned down, he thought, “Now I can still smoke pot and don’t have to wear a suit.” More often, they’re moving—e.g., Mithoefer’s assistance with a variety of patients, many of whom spoke on the record about their experiences, to discover what the doctor calls “inner healing intelligence.” Add to these stories a perceptive criticism of the failings of America’s war on drugs, and Shroder delivers an important historical perspective on a highly controversial issue in modern medicine.

An observant argument for understanding a society through the drugs it uses.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16279-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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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