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Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream Paperback – September 2, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (September 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802135872
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #907,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Stevens has written a gripping account of the use and abuse of mind-altering drugs in recent decades. He explains the fascination of mescaline and psilocybin for psychologists interested in behaviorial change. He documents the insidious role of the CIA in testing mind-control drugs. He traces the convoluted path of Timothy Leary from his position as research psychologist at Harvard to his role as guru advocating the use of LSD to achieve spiritual utopia. He descibes the outwardly placid social climate of the 1950s, and vividly contrasts the dramatic upheavals of the 60s, sketching pulsing portraits of Allen Ginsberg, Aldous Huxley, and Jack Kerouac. Packed with facts, this is social history at its most compelling. Carol R. Glatt, New Jersey Bioethics Commission, Trenton
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

The definitive account of the quest for chemical transcendence. "The most compelling account yet of how . . . hallucinogenic, or 'psychedelic,' drugs became an explosive force in postwar American history."--Newsweek --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Jay Stevens is a poet, historian, performer.

He is the author of Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream. With Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, he wrote Drumming At The Edge of Magic and Planet Drum.

He is the founder of Rap Lab, a program that brings together "youth at risk" and local musicians following the philosophy that "any town can be Motown."

A leading proponent of the Orphic Revival, Stevens performs his poetry with a shifting band of musicians known as 'The Raven.'

Dance House, a selection, is available on CD and download.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Excellent book, very well written.
Catherine Stanko
While reading, Jay Stevens was placing me "there", "right there" where is was all happening from Aldous Huxley, to Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey.
"The Woj"
In addition to those mentioned, many unknown but intriguing characters fill the pages of this book.
Norm Zurawski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By "The Woj" on April 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was born in 1960, so I was a little to young to appreciate the "Summer Of Love", Haight-Ashbury and the entire late 60's counter-culture movement. My fascination with that era began with Jimi Hendrix and other musicians associate with it. Most of the social aspects I was aware of were written by the "slanted" view of the media, teachers, politicians and parents; not the most objective of viewpoints
When I heard about this book I picked it up ... ASAP and was not disappointed. I will not go into lengthy discussions of this book like other reviewers (or even spell all the words correctly). While reading, Jay Stevens was placing me "there", "right there" where is was all happening from Aldous Huxley, to Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey.
The story unfolds "expertly" and the characters involved are so well described, it feels like I've met them personally.
While much of the information is public knowledge, there are many fascinating, generally unknown tidbits: from the CIA's LSD involvement to insights on Leary & Kesey.
Anyone who holds any interest in this subject will not be disappointed with this book. From someone who grew up on The Brady Bunch, The Monkees & Happy Days....this book is a definite eye opener into a cultural wave I wish I had been riding.... so "Turn On, Tune In & Get This Book".
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr Potato Head on January 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
What if you could take a pill or otherwise ingest some substance that would make you see your whole world totally differently than you have seen it before? How do you think your life would change, or would you be any different at all?

As we all know, even if we weren't there...this is a large part of what the 1960's were about. And this book provides a window into the web of events and players that emerged during that turbulent time in our evolution. In my view, it presents an unbiased social history of consciousness expanding chemistry and it's consequences on the human mind and by extension, upon the greater society as a whole. The author uses scenes that are vivid and intimate into the players that had major roles in this upheaval of the status qou - Tim Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Alpert(aka. Ram Dass), Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Aldous Huxley, to name just a few. And of course, they all had their own opinions on how the revolution was to proceed, with frequent disagreements. There is also considerable light shed on the fact that LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, and other compounds were being used with considerable effectiveness within parts of the psychoanalytic community for several years before the powers that be came in and put them back in the box. But even if they hadn't passed laws against these tools, it would have eventually come crashing down of it's own weight. In the end, it was too radical a departure from the societal norms and the movement itself had no real leaders. Leadership was anathema to the revolution, the paradox being that authority was what was being disempowered. The result is that the dream spiraled out of control and we eventually ended up with Ronald Raygun as President and we haven't quite been the same since.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Martian Bachelor on May 6, 2001
Format: Paperback
This investigative tour de force covers in great detail the years from 1943 (and a little before) up through the LSD hysteria circa 1965-7. I'm marking it down a star because of its inexplicable lack of an index, which greatly reduces its value as a research reference -- which it surely deserves to be. There are so many biographies trying to be told simultaneously here that it sometimes got a bit confusing. It also tends to go off on occasional tangents, digressing at what to me seemed like too great a length regarding some of the characters of the story which (again) to me seemed more like minor ones not worth the many background pages devoted to them. But those are rather small quibbles really.
Stevens is pretty good at keeping central issues front and center as events unfold: eg, how the psychological models evolved over time, and the socio-political question of whether the power of this amazing molecule was for the masses or just for the few -- both of which became more or less moot as events over-ran things.
I liked "Acid Dreams" a microgram or two more than this book, probably because it emphasizes cultural rather than personal history more, but still had a difficult time putting "Storming Heaven" down for very long. It's extremely information-rich and well-written -- it's rather dispassionately objective while still being interesting. It would probably only disappoint those looking for simple answers.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By nonamespecified on March 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
It seems to me, as others have said, that the discovery of LSD ranks up there with the top scientific discoveries of the century. The mere fact alone that there exists a substance, 50 micrograms of which, would be sufficient to perhaps reorient your entire life and understanding of the universe, whether or not one ever actually tries it, is well worth remembering on those occasions when we get a little too self-preoccupied. This book documents the history of the reactions of various individuals as they encountered this substance through an amazingly varied set of contexts, and through an intricately woven web of connections. I have a mild annoyance with the book in that the author is relentless in his effort to remain 'above it all' and regards everything with an amused and detached air. It is a puzzling attitude in a way. But the stories he tells are all well-crafted and make compelling reading. His lack of reflection on the ultimate meaning of LSD for our view of what it is to be 'normal' may be quite intentional, but it seems to give the book an unnecessarily superficial orientation which I found a bit strange.
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