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White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg Paperback


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White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg + The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers; First Edition edition (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872865355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872865358
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,498,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1960, Allen Ginsberg, high on William Blake and the resounding success of his epic poem, Howl, met Timothy Leary, the new Harvard psychologist eager to convince the world that getting high on psychedelic drugs could soothe the savage beast in the human heart. Conners (Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead) splendidly brings these two mavericks back to life as he chronicles that first meeting at Leary's house and traces their growing bond as they built the bridges between the "holy trinity" (Albert Hofmann, the father of psychedelics; Aldous Huxley; and William Blake) of visionary consciousness expansion and the 1960s psychedelic movement. Along the way, we glimpse all the familiar faces of the 1960s psychedelic era--Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, who conducted their own acid tests; Jack Kerouac; William Burroughs; and Neal Cassady, among others. As Conners keenly observes, Ginsberg gave Leary entrée to the influential world of artistic America, and Leary gave Ginsberg an opportunity to expose America to powerful hallucinatory visions. Conners records Ginsberg and Leary's long, strange trip, from their earliest experiments with psilocybin to their deaths in the late 1990s. (Nov.)
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Review

"A full account of the two 1960s icons who made it their cause to launch the psychedelic age…an entertaining overview of an era whose echoes still ring."—Kirkus

More About the Author

Peter Conners is author of the memoir, Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead (Da Capo Press, 2009). His new book, White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg, was published by City Lights in November 2010. He is currently at work on an oral history of jam and festival bands titled JAMerica to be published by Da Capo Press in fall 2013.

His other books include the prose poetry collection Of Whiskey and Winter and the novella Emily Ate the Wind. His next poetry collection, The Crows Were Laughing in their Trees, is forthcoming from White Pine Press in spring 2011. He is also editor of PP/FF: An Anthology which was published by Starcherone Books in April 2006. He lives in Rochester, New York where he works as Publisher of the not-for-profit literary press BOA Editions.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jack L. on November 18, 2010
Format: Paperback
I love the way this book starts (and the way it reads throughout!). I had known about Ginsberg's Blakean vision and really appreciate Conners' perceptive ideas about it as a triggering mechanism for Ginsberg's lifelong investigation of other-worldly possibilities through tuning in and turning on to various hallucinogenic and meditation practices.

My connection to Leary has always been more to his notoriety, good and bad, as a leader in the psychedelic movement. Even at the time, his making any sense as a social scientist or thinker came and went for me, and I was then, and remain, skeptical of a number of his notions. Sometimes he was strong, sometimes very weak and his antics didn't help the movement. The inclusion of the Houseboat Summit, especially with our hindsight perspective, often shows him to be out of touch altogether (it's a wonderful showcase for the good souls of Allen and Gary Snyder as they come to his rescue or re-direct the conversation).

But, I must also say, the opening Leary chapter helps my understanding and provides clues to what motivated his passionate pursuit of the LSD experience. A number of other moments along the way also show Leary's humanity, and at times his human desperation, in a positive light.

This was quite an era and for someone who lived through it and was at least somewhat "tuned in" it was great to re-live it and to learn more about how it all went down. While the book is thorough it is hardly a textbooky historical account. It is smoothly organized and, its biggest plus, Conners has written it with a flair for storytelling that will keep you turning his pages!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
The title refers to a drinking club of two Timothy Leary started at Harvard, around 1960. It never amounted to much, but Peter Conners uses it for his book, which links Leary to Allen Ginsberg over the decades, from the Beats to the Hippies, and into the Watergate era, the War on Drugs, and the final days of both countercultural pioneers. Their partnership is not an unfamiliar story.

What Conners contributes that is fresh are his excerpts and summations from the Ginsberg archives of his correspondence at Stanford; added to the referenced material from Barry Miles' and Bill Morgan's published research on the poet, Conners maps the trail of where Ginsberg's paths intersected with Leary's over three-hundred readable, well-paced, straightforward pages. While Conners does not credit Michael Schumacher's 1994 Dharma Lion biography, which focused on the poetry itself, his use of Miles and Morgan among others, along with a reliance on Robert Greenfield's excellent 2006 biography (see my review) of Leary, makes for a welcome overview for those seekers who may not wish to tackle those hefty volumes in their quest to find out about what linked, and sometimes divided, these two visionary pranksters.

Conners explains the Society, such as it was: Ginsberg introduces Leary, at the start of the Sixties, to the artists who can influence the Great Society. Leary exposes Ginsberg to "powerful hallucinatory visions." By making psilocybin and mescaline respectable, under Harvard's sponsorship, Leary sought to break out of academia while using his position within it to, at least not yet, drop out. First, he wanted America's elite to tune in and turn on.

Leary dominates most of the ensuing saga.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By W. Paul Blakey on August 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have read about Ginsberg and Leary. Written without sensationalism, it chronicles the times beautifully. As one influenced greatly by both men, I was more than pleased to read such a balanced rendering, something not easy to do given their shared notoriety.

Poetry and trickery.

Courageous psychonauts I salute you in the world beyond, and I bless the author for a sensitive portrayal, warts and all, of the dreams you lived.

Sex and Light: How to Google your way to Godhood
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bruce P. Barten on May 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
Some Americans have attempted to turn me into a highly medicated individual, so I find ironic links to the MK Ultra project when intellectual activity is associated with drugs by those who hope the world will save itself by becoming normal. As a student at the same universities where the Unabomber obtained his degrees, I knew someone who went to a talk on: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. Young people who do not want to take part in a society that has so many laws against personal behavior can study what goes on in the brains of people who are up on something, but the misfits who find themselves playing with supernatural powers when going to the moon was supposed to make sense can confuse how much of our past is still in the future. Anything I could say would be outrageous because the people in this book became the stereotype for antiestablishment thinking.
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