Cocaine, writes filmmaker Dominic Streatfeild, "is not some evil spawn of Satan but simply a commodity." Like other commodities, cocaine has a history. When the Spanish conquistadors came to South America and observed that Indians who chewed the leaves of Erythroxylon coca could, it seemed, march over the tallest mountain or through the densest forest for days on end, they knew they were onto something. The newcomers took to growing coca themselves, and in time their product found an audience outside the continent, with users such as Sigmund Freud, Ernest Shackleton (who "took Forced March cocaine tablets to Antarctica in 1909 for the energy boost they gave"), Duke Ellington, and, eventually, half of Hollywood to testify to its powers. Streatfeild's appropriately rapid narrative takes in such key moments and players as "the year of cocaine" 1969, when the film Easy Rider reintroduced the drug to American popular culture, and George Jung, whose exploits are chronicled in Ted Demme's film Blow, to create a portrait of the drug that ranges over centuries. Though he supports legalization, Streatfeild acknowledges the evil and corruption surrounding the trade. Drawing lessons from history, he also suggests the possibility that "cocaine will fizzle out in the year 2015 the way it did in the early twentieth century." At the close of this absorbing book, he adds, "It deserves to." --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Boil off Streatfeild's informal tone a mix of self-deprecation and gonzo-journalist swagger and what's left is a fascinating and richly detailed story of the world's most notorious drug and an illicit $92-billion-a-year industry. Streatfeild, a British documentary film producer, visits its every outpost, from Bronx crack houses and Amazonian coca plantations to Bolivian prisons and the compounds of South American drug lords. He launches the story with a history of the coca leaf and its prominent place in both ancient and contemporary consciousness, tackling race, poverty, class, violence, mythology and xenophobia as seen through the prism of cocaine. There are countless strands to the story, and Streatfeild follows every one: the rise of the Colombian cartels, government collusion with traffickers, the crack phenomenon, media hype, the U.S. war on drugs and the legalization debate. The author lights up the myriad figures who feature in cocaine's history: Columbus, Freud, Pablo Escobar, Manuel Noriega, George Jung, even Richard Pryor and the late basketball star Len Bias. He picks the brains of botanists and economists, lawmen and guerrillas, addicts and kingpins, and travels extensively throughout the Americas. The main drawback: Streatfeild's insistence that the reader be privy to superfluous research details such as fizzled leads, false starts, wrong turns and boring authors. In the end, though, Streatfeild delivers a straight tale about a world where nothing is as it seems.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Excellent read on the history of Cocaine and its role in society. It dragged a bit at the 2/3rd mark when the author goes into modern day effects of the cocaine trade in latin... Read morePublished 3 months ago by syd
This is a very thorough and entertaining analysis of Cocaine, from before Spanish conquest up to today. Read morePublished 12 months ago by E. Nelson
This is a really interesting book loaded with great basic information. Cocaine, like so many other narcotics has such a convoluted history. This book makes sense of it all. Read morePublished 20 months ago by canoeman
Very long and incredibly detailed. Consequently it drags a bit from time to time, but all-in-all it's a fascinating read. Read morePublished on May 18, 2013 by Patchnparrot
This is the third time I have purchased this book due to someone stealing it. it is a great read and the history is amazing. Great job Dominic!Published on April 4, 2013 by Jennifer
A rather long read, but it is the text used for instruction in an issues class I am taking, and it is very informative.Published on February 6, 2013 by Veronica
Great, immensely quotable book
Most addictive, long association with humans, hard to grow and extremely flexible why wouldn't you?
This is one of the best non-fiction books you're ever likely to read. The volume of research is extremely impressive and paralleled by the very accessible way he puts across the... Read morePublished on August 7, 2012 by iliketoread
In a true tour de force, this author has covered the waterfront in digging though the history, of the coca plant. Read morePublished on March 17, 2012 by Herbert L Calhoun