From Publishers Weekly
Drug dealers with delusions of grandeur populate this colorful but overwrought history of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a 1960s-era narcotics ring–cum–hippie church. Influenced by psychedelic prophet Timothy Leary—who called the group's leader, former high school bully John Griggs, the holiest man in America—the California-based Brotherhood styled its cheap, extra-strength Orange Sunshine brand of LSD as a pathway to God. Journalist Schou (Kill the Messenger
) takes the spiritual purpose of these psychedelic warriors, along with their solemn acid-dropping sacraments and utopian pipe dreams, rather too seriously. (He likewise inflates their sporadic ventures scoring Mexican marijuana and Afghan hashish into a global smuggling empire.) His narrative quickly devolves into a haphazard picaresque of drug deals, drug busts, overdoses, surfing, rock concerts (Jimi Hendrix does a cameo), orgies, and people living in teepees. Schou sometimes forgets that reading about other people's acid trips—The whole sky took on huge forms of dancing Buddhas and the energy got really bright—is a drag. Still, the mixture of lively freakery and stoned pomposity gives his portrait of countercultural excess an authentic period feel. (Mar.)
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The Brotherhood of Eternal Love was a group of 1960s hippie visionaries with a plan. Imagine an America in which LSD is a common source of inspiration and insight for the whole populace, and the pronouncements of Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, and other academic space cowboys are prized philosophical touchstones. Such, more or less, was the group’s goal as producer-distributors of the famous Orange Sunshine LSD that was a part of campus all over America in the late ’60s. At its organizational peak, the Brotherhood funded the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers to successfully break Leary out of prison. Schou interviewed remaining Brotherhood members (who, unlike acid-gobbling pop musicians, seem to have largely retained their memories), gleaning impressive amounts of detail for his discussions of the ins and outs of the era’s drug trade and the moving of vast quantities of marijuana and hashish along with the LSD. Loaded with little-known historical mots, this is an excellent chronicle of a piece of history unlikely to be repeated. --Mike Tribby