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High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society Hardcover – Deckle Edge

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062015885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062015884
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“It’s a fascinating combination of memoir and social science: wrenching scenes of deprivation and violence accompanied by calm analysis of historical data and laboratory results.” (John Tierney, New York Times)

“Moving and inspiring…. Hart’s memoir… is deeply honest and often painful. And his account of the ways in which scientific evidence has been ignored in the war on drugs is as alarming as it is fascinating.” (Boston Globe)

“Hart’s account of rising from the projects to the ivory tower is as poignant as his call to change the way society thinks about race, drugs and poverty.” (Scientific American)

“A hard-hitting attack on current drug policy by…a neuroscientist who grew up on the streets of one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods…An eye-opening, absorbing, complex story of scientific achievement in the face of overwhelming odds.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“A refreshing new analysis of drug use that reveals how common misconceptions about illegal drugs are far too often not based on empirical evidence. . . . . [A] thought-provoking…[and] important work on substance abuse.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Combining memoir, popular science, and public policy, Hart’s study lambasts current drug laws as draconian and repressive…. His is a provocative clarion call for students of sociology and policy-makers alike.” (Publishers Weekly)

“It’s not every day you read a book that blows the lid off everything you’ve ever been taught about drugs, but Dr. Carl Hart’s recent work…does just that. Part memoir, part myth-buster…a fast-paced read.” (Huffington Post)

“Perhaps nowhere has a voice been more resonant in a single place than in Dr. Carl Hart’s profoundly impacting new memoir, High Price.” (Ebony.com)

“In his new book High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, Carl Hart blowsapart the most common myths about drugs and their impact on society.” (Kristen Gwynne, Salon.com)

“Hart’s autobiography weaves personal memoir, Drug Science 101, and enlightened discussions of American racial politics into one engaging narrative.” (Gabriel Grand, PolicyMic.com)

“This mixing of personal story and hard research is interesting and appealing, in part because Hart isn’t preachy and partly due to his unique history as someone who actually lived that which he’s trying to help others avoid.” (New Pittsburgh Courier)

“A seminal contribution to the conversation about the intersection of the legal system and drug addiction from a bodacious brother with both street credibility and academic credentials.” (LA Sentinel)

From the Back Cover

A pioneering neuroscientist shares his story of growing up in one of Miami's toughest neighborhoods and how it led him to his groundbreaking work in drug addiction.

As a youth, Carl Hart didn't realize the value of school; he studied just enough to stay on the basketball team. At the same time, he was immersed in street life. Today he is a cutting-edge neuroscientist—Columbia University's first tenured African American professor in the sciences—whose landmark, controversial research is redefining our understanding of addiction.

In this provocative and eye-opening memoir, he recalls his journey of self-discovery and weaves his past and present. Hart goes beyond the hype of the antidrug movement as he examines the relationship among drugs, pleasure, choice, and motivation, both in the brain and in society. His findings shed new light on common ideas about race, poverty, and drugs, and explain why current policies are failing.

Though Hart escaped neighborhoods that were dominated by entrenched poverty and the knot of problems associated with it, he has not turned his back on his roots. Determined to make a difference, he tirelessly applies his scientific research to help save real lives. But balancing his former street life with his achievements today has not been easy—a struggle he reflects on publicly for the first time.

A powerful story of hope and change, of a scientist who has dedicated his life to helping others, High Price will alter the way we think about poverty, race, and addiction—and how we can effect change.

More About the Author

Carl Hart is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is also a Research Scientist in the Division of Substance Abuse at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Hart is a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and on the board of directors of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the Drug Policy Alliance. A native of Miami, Florida, Dr. Hart received his B.S. in psychology at the University of Maryland, and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental psychology and neuroscience at the University of Wyoming. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

If his editor would have tightened up the prose a little bit I would have enjoyed it a lot more.
This book will open your eyes and make you understand our society a lot better, and it's the best book I've read in a long time.
Luis De la Garza
Dr. Hart advocates for the decriminalization of drug use, which might at first sound like a fairly radical suggestion.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Betsy J Sparrow on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Disclaimer: I know Dr. Hart and had heard some of his story and have been exposed to his research before reading this book. That said, I started reading when it hit my Kindle and didn't put it down until I finished (for those fellow e-readers, like myself, I noticed no formatting issues as you sometimes see with kindle books). I found Dr. Hart's book to be utterly compelling and a magnificent achievement of the sort I have never read before in a "pop" psychology book. He manages to both make the neuroscience easily understandable, and uses he own autobiography to help support the argument prompted by his research findings. I have never seen an academic lay himself so bare, tenure or not. In doing so, Dr. Hart underscores his argument that drugs are not the primary problem in poor and/or minority communities. It is lack of many things: opportunity, personal decision making, family support, luck. Drugs are an issue, but this is due to the interaction of drugs with the above factors for most people (addiction is a different story, and Hart addresses that). The discussion of the similar depiction (by researchers, the government, and the media) of various drugs over the years as being instantly addictive and creating a culture of violence due to the nature of the drug's chemistry (whether it be cocaine, crack, or meth) was very powerful. Dr. Hart believed this himself until his research showed him that people were not mindless, poor decision makers only out for the next high. Using the lens provided by his research findings, he saw his own past and the pasts of the people he knew growing up in a different light. Dr.Read more ›
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70 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Tamika Franklin on June 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
STOP! If you are seeking a dry technical textbook then High Price by Dr. Carl Hart is not for you.

High Price is an intensely personal page turner that forces the reader to challenge everything we believe we know about drugs such as: what is addiction, what kind of family structure is more likely to produce addicts, why do people get high, why are poor black people overpopulating prisons, and what can we do about it.

I believe Dr. Hart wants to affect Drug Policy by educating us to think carefully and critically about illicit drugs thereby shifting our bias from personal anecdotes to empirical evidence. The Drug War & Mass Incarceration are topics I am passionate about so I read High Price in less than a day and now I follow Dr. Hart on twitter.

High Price is a memoir. It could have been written solely as a science book but I appreciate the personal approach because I saw my family in those pages and I found myself thinking about their drug use and my non drug use in ways I have never before. Prior to reading High Price I had already believed drug policy was a problem but after reading High Price I can articulate WHY drug policy is a problem. I now ask questions much harder than - what would've happened if President Obama was stopped and frisked?

The Drug war is as much about racism as it is about outrageous lies & myths surrounding illicit drug use. Dr. Hart teaches this in a memoir full of Racism, Politics, Drugs & Sex and it is so good I want all of my friends to read it.
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful By booksy on August 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was an easy to read memoir of a young African American man who grew up in poverty in the city, witnessed family and neighborhood dysfunction, violence and drug abuse, and rose above it all to become a professor and scientist. In his younger years, he believed that drugs were the cause of all of the problems in his neighborhood, but as he began studying illegal drugs and how they work on humans, he came to the realization that there are many more variables at play, and blaming just the drug is off the mark.

I really liked the information about drugs that Dr. Hart writes about, especially how his findings differed from so much of what we hear today about illegal substances. I also liked the way he tied his findings into observations about his own life and how drugs are demonized by the media and even other scientists when the facts say otherwise.

What I didn't like so much was the memoir part of the book. Although Dr. Hart's story is interesting, he has a somewhat clunky writing style, and I really struggled getting through the first third of it. I felt like he repeated himself a lot and seemed to pad the writing with extra sentences. If his editor would have tightened up the prose a little bit I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

I personally don't think that decriminalization goes far enough, and that is Dr. Hart's recommendation, but aside from that, I enjoyed all of the parts about his research and how drugs work on the body, and his analysis of the methods of some of the tests that have been done previously. His writing seemed to come alive a little bit more at these parts, and I definitely learned something new.

I would recommend this book for the drug science information, but with reservations because it can get a little wordy and drawn-out at times. I would probably read another book by this author.
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