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Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond Paperback – January 21, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0802130624 ISBN-10: 0802130623 Edition: Revised

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Revised edition (January 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130624
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This fascinating study examines how the CIA tested LSD on unwitting residents of Greenwich Village and San Francisco. Of particular interest are profiles of Timothy Leary, LSD chemist Ronald Stark and others.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Be this book.
Mr Potato Head
The fifth chapter of this book is entitled "The All-American Trip", detailing the rise of the Merry Pranksters who followed Ken Kesey.
New Age of Barbarism
Fascinating, well-written and very informative.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Mr Potato Head on September 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is surprisingly one of the best books I have read. The authors give a colorfully accurate account of the events that occured decades ago, all of which still echo into our current era. It covers the origin of LSD, as a drug the CIA funded research on for use as a tool for mind control applications using civilians and military personnel as test subjects. At the very outset, it was obvious that the CIA was well aware of the potential power of this substance in its ability to wreak havoc on the collective psyche, to shatter current assumptions and threaten cherished ego boundaries. Yet, eventually it became available to the masses who would come to extol it's use religiously and rise to the groundswell of counterculture in the 60's. This book, more than any other source I have encountered, explores the underlying causes of the demise of the cultural/political/self re-evolution of that time and gives us pause to reflect on the politics of consciousness - to see who really won The War Of The Mind. Proof again that truth <however relative> is stranger than fiction. Be this book.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Christopher B. Jonnes on January 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
This one caught me by surprise. It's not the stuffy this-is-all-the-bad-stuff-that-happened textbook I expected, but rather a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable study of LSD and the CIA's role in the cultural and political maelstrom of the 1960s. Over the past thirty years, from Watergate to Zippergate, Americans have learned that their government is capable of some pretty amazing shenanigans. That helps what we read in this book seem more plausible. What Lee and Shlain document in Acid Dreams, with an impressive volume of research, is the CIA's enormous effort to develop mind-control methods. These included various psychedelic drugs--with LSD topping the list--hypnosis, and more. The potential uses of such control range from military to civilian--and to downright bizarre. For example, they discuss the unresolved question--in some minds--of whether Sirhan Sirhan was actually a CIA-created murdering automaton, a drug-and-hypnosis-induced killer, programmed to kill Robert Kennedy.
Some the things they reveal are far-fetched and may be impossible to ever prove one way or another, but there's plenty more that is incontrovertible. And everything in the book is interesting. Acid Dreams adds a fresh and wonderful perspective on this aspect of our recent history. A more recent book called "Hepcats, Narcs, and Pipe Dreams," provides a complimentary education on this topic, covering a broader history of illegal drugs throughout America's past. Readers who enjoy Acid Dreams may want to follow up with this one.--Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Cathleen M. Walker VINE VOICE on August 6, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 1969, the year of Woodstock, I was 16 years old. Acid Dreams actually takes us back, back, much further to the beginnings of the LSD phenomenon in America in the fifties, through the turbulent sixties, and beyond. I was completely mesmerized by energy and enthusiasm Lee injects into his prose. The history of the Baby Boom generation is not one to be dismissed lightly, as many try to do, especially those in positions of corporate power who would rather forget that "tune in, turn on, drop out," meant a diversion *away* from the great American past, consumerism, and corporate profit! If you aren't old enough to remember these times, and if you didn't learn about them in school (and I'll just bet you didn't!) this book should be mandatory reading in every high school! Because it condones and encourages the use of drugs? NO! Because it encourages critical thinking, questioning authority, and looking long and hard at the "war against drugs," which is nothing more, and nothing less, than a war for the *control* of who is going to make the money off them. That's not what LSD was about when it got away from the Government...for it was the Government that first brought LSD to these shores in an effort to control people to begin with. It flew in their faces as they watched the younger generation make it their own flight to freedom. The psychotic breakdowns of bad trips were largely scare tactics designed to put control back in the hands of the "experts" who originally "tabbed" thousands of people in this country without their knowledge and/or consent, which, with LSD, *creates* the paranoia of the "bad trip.Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
Let me jump on the hype-this-book bandwagon...
Amazing! It's been said, "If you can remember the 60's you weren't there." Well, Lee and Shlain in _Acid Dreams_ not only take us back but provide an accurate, entertaining, and well-documented chronicle of government abuse of power and, once more, of the CIA's sinister involvement.
In these post-9-11 times when the current administration wants to unleash bureaucratic watchdogs on its citizens in the name of the "war on terror" this history book should alert us to what can happen when government agencies are set upon us unrestrained by checks and balances.
This history of "the CIA, LSD and the Sixites rebellion" is nothing less than a kaleidoscopic tour that not only names, but documents the outrageous actions of, the major players of the day from CIA Director Richard Helms to Timothy Leary to the messianic street alchemists who wished to bring instant enlightenment to the masses.
Whereas the CIA wished to conduct mind-control experiments on unsuspecting human guinea pigs, the underground rebels simply wished to expand minds.
Although many many infamous and not so infamous individuals are interwoven in this highly readable narrative from Dr. Albert Hoffman to Captain Alfred M. Hubbard to Abbie Hoffman to Charles Manson to Ken Kesey and Tim Scully the real characters are the CIA, LSD itself, and the Sixties! What a concept!
According to this richly documented and indexed (wow-the other reviewers are right-on;a hell of a reading list in its own right!) book, nothing of significance in the 60's was untouched for better or for worse by acid:The Free Speech Movement, the Vietnam war, campus demonstrations, the Nixon presidency, Ginsberg, Dylan, and the Beatles.
Read more ›
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