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

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: 9.1 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,921 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.

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Customer Reviews

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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
This is my third copy of this book.
Linda D. Morisch

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 76 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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58 of 64 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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28 of 29 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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on May 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
You will count yourself experienced after reading this completely fascinating book. Lee and Shlain deliver the social history of LSD, along with the historical forces that shaped it and were shaped by it, with both investigative integrity and a refreshing amount of hip slang. You can't go wrong with a book that combines chemistry, political analysis, and sociology with witticisms like "listen to a digger rap it down" and "that great Dionysian rap dance." This book has it all: top secret government shenanigans, bizarre medical experiments, spooks and infiltrators, beats and hippies, radicals and revolutionaries, international drug cartels, outlandish conspiracy theories (with clarity and a grain of salt), rock n' roll and pop culture. It's all wrapped up in a stirring social history of the United States during the 1950's through 1970's, as the influence of LSD spread far beyond it's origins among chemists and CIA agents.
In addition to Lee and Shlain's completely insightful social history, they also deliver some keen revelations about the US government's shifting attitudes toward drug control, which are rarely based on sound science or medical studies. You'll learn that LSD was once heavily supported by the CIA as a mind control drug, but they disowned it when it hit the black market and inspired a generation of activists and free thinkers. LSD was then outlawed supposedly for public health reasons, but Lee and Shlain give plenty of evidence that these new drug laws were merely a tool of social control to hose down restless young people and nonconformists. The same could probably be said about most other drug laws. This is just one of the many intriguing revelations in this outstanding book. Not unlike its root subject, this book can blow your mind, simply by the power and fascination of the writing and investigation by Lee and Shlain. Highly recommended.
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