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High Society: The Central Role of Mind-Altering Drugs in History, Science, and Culture Paperback – October 19, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1594773938 ISBN-10: 1594773939 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Park Street Press; 1 edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594773939
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594773938
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“I encourage you to read High Society to get a different perspective; one of research and historical facts before making a decision of what side you are taking. This is a good read and a good knowledge base for further contemplation and personal research.” (Irene Watson, Reader Views, November 2010)

“. . . an excellent introduction to the history of drugs: concise, readable, profound in its implications, and beautifully presented.” (Jonathan Taylor, Erowid, October 2011)

“The impressive collection of pictures alone makes this book outstanding. Well illustrated–literally–are the roles drugs play as medicines, religious sacraments, status symbols, and trade goods. This is no dry, academic account, but a colorful, cross–cultural history of people, as well as birds and animals, seeking pain relief, enjoyment, creativity, or enlightenment through plants. It covers centuries of both use and abuse.” (American Herb Association, September 2012)

“Mike Jay’s book offers an excellently researched account of the changing interface of drug use, social values, international trade and commerce, and cultural conditioning. It makes for a fascinating read for those interested in our long and varied relationship with psychoactive materials and our quest for novelty.” (Tom Soloway Pinkson, Ph.D., author of The Shamanic Wisdom of the Huichol: Medicine Teachings for Mod)

“The fascinating history of mind-altering substances is given an articulate and intelligent treatment in Mike Jay’s intriguing narrative. This is anything but a dry recounting. The intertwined influences of culture, politics, and finance on the history and perception of drug use are chronicled in this well-written and engrossing study.” (J. D. Arthur, author of Salvia Divinorum: Doorway to Thought-Free Awareness)

From the Back Cover

ENTHEOGENS / POPULAR CULTURE

“Mike Jay’s book offers an excellently researched account of the changing interface of drug use, social values, international trade and commerce, and cultural conditioning. It makes for a fascinating read for those interested in our long and varied relationship with psychoactive materials and our quest for novelty.”
--Tom Soloway Pinkson, Ph.D., author of The Shamanic Wisdom of the Huichol: Medicine Teachings for Modern Times

“The fascinating history of mind-altering substances is given an articulate and intelligent treatment in Mike Jay’s intriguing narrative. This is anything but a dry recounting. The intertwined influences of culture, politics, and finance on the history and perception of drug use are chronicled in this well-written and engrossing study.”
--J. D. Arthur, author of Salvia Divinorum: Doorway to Thought-Free Awareness

Every society is a high society. Every day people drink coffee on European terraces and kava in Pacific villages; chew betel nut in Indonesian markets and coca leaf on Andean mountainsides; swallow ecstasy tablets in the clubs of Amsterdam and opium pills in the deserts of Rajastan; smoke hashish in Himalayan temples and tobacco and marijuana in every nation on Earth.

Exploring the spectrum of drug use throughout history--from its roots in animal intoxication to its future in designer neurochemicals--High Society paints vivid portraits of the roles drugs play in different cultures as medicines, religious sacraments, status symbols, and coveted trade goods. From the botanicals of the classical world through the mind-bending self-experiments of 18th- and 19th-century scientists to the synthetic molecules that have transformed our understanding of the brain, Mike Jay reveals how drugs such as tobacco, tea, and opium drove the global trade and cultural exchange that created the modern world and examines the forces that led to the prohibition of opium and cocaine a century ago and the “war on drugs” that rages today.

MIKE JAY is a leading specialist in the study of drugs across history and cultures. The author of Artificial Paradises, Emperors of Dreams, and The Atmosphere of Heaven, his critical writing on drugs has appeared in many publications, including The Guardian, The Telegraph, and The International Journal of Drug Policy. He sits on the editorial board of the addiction journal Drugs and Alcohol Today and on the board of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation. He lives in England.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Neither a dry academic treatise nor a strident advocacy, Jay's book is a very well-illustrated cultural and historical survey of the use of natural, purified, and synthesized psychoactive substances by every society around the globe, from deep rain forests to mountain peaks, from modern cities to desert oases. The book follows the exhibit under the same title presented at the famous Wellcome Collection in History of Medicine in London, England. Besides the spiritual and religious use (entheogens), the consumption of such agents have been social lubricants and glues, creative stimulants for artists, poets, and writers, relaxants, pharmacologically useful sleep-inducers and painkillers, and scientific tools in studying brain and mind. The pleasure and curiosity of consciousness-altering plants are not just human activities, for birds and mammals are known to seek them. Those groups and societies that attempted to eliminate all mind-altering substances were stagnant, staid, anxious, and short-lived. Islam may have forbidden alcohol consumption but coffee, tea, and tobacco in turn took its place. Even sugar and chocolate have been sought for its psychotropic effects. The story of this psychobiological need is fascinatingly told, and the historical color images enhance the discussion. I found particularly interesting the first specific book on psychoactive plants: Carl Linnaeus, the pioneer taxonomist, wrote Inebriantia in 1762. Betel-Areca nut preparations, kava, coca, khat, tobacco, ayuhuasca, peyote, psilocybin mushroom, opium, cannabis, tea, coffee, alcohol, nitrous oxide, LSD, MMDA (ecstasy), and other agents have been used (and sometimes abused), both prescribed, and proscribed. Government-supported industry and underground industry developing and trading these agents have a long history.Read more ›
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Renato Baserga on September 23, 2011
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on the use and spread of so-called recreational drugs. From the ancients to modern times. The various drugs are presented objectively, simply for what they are, no more and no less. You can find out in this book that no one controlled the use of recreational drugs until USA came into the fray and passed so many laws one does no longer know how to use them even in medicine. But it also narrates how opium was imported to China and used effectively by Europeans (especially the British) to destroy the Chinese society. It shows the new drugs synthesized for our pleasure and how new ones are constantly pursued to get around prohibitions. At the end of this fascinating book, I was left with the question of whether prohibitions actually are not responsible for the spreading of their use. Maybe if we ignore tham, they will go away. I hasten to say that it is NOT what this book says. The book is very readable and informative and the information is equally usefu to anyobe, whether Democrats or Tea Partiers, as long as they wish to acquire new information.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shaniqua on August 9, 2013
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I go to this book when I want to review the issue and remember that the cost of recreational drugs is too rich for my blood.
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