- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press; Revised edition (January 21, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780802130624
- ISBN-13: 978-0802130624
- ASIN: 0802130623
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 98 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #255,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond Revised Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
This fascinating study examines how the CIA tested LSD on unwitting residents of Greenwich Village and San Francisco. Of particular interest are profiles of Timothy Leary, LSD chemist Ronald Stark and others.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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After reading it, many people would feel the most important conclusion to be drawn from this story is that the CIA inadvertently triggered much of the anti-war movement of the 1960s, along with the emergence of the hippie counterculture and its culmination in the 1967 San Francisco Summer of Love, as unlikely as all that might seem.
This book tells how and a lot more.
Interesting stuff about Timothy Leary and his place in the Acid story, with a passing bow to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. Fascinating glimpses behind the scenes of the shocking protests and police repression that took place outside the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago; the advent of the Students for a Democratic Society, and even some of the inner workings of the Black Panthers.
In somewhat of a surprise, the author suggests that LSD may have had a significant dampening effect on the more radical political movements of the mid to late 60s.
As an indication of how wild (almost eccentric) this book is in places, picture CIA agents secretly spiking fellow agents' drinks with LSD. Be a fly on the wall observing the inner workings of the business operations of the Southern California Acid mafia that took over distribution of LSD after Owsley Stanley split the scene.
This reviewer hesitates to label any book as a Must Read; but for anyone doing extensive research into the phenomenon of the 1960s, this book is in fact a must-read. And for those who participated in the wild ride of the acid-drenched days of the 1960s, this book will prove to be a fun (and instructive) read as well. For those who never tripped, it will nevertheless give a much clearer understanding of this drug and its place in what was surely the most radical period of change in American cultural history.
There are all kinds of unlikely combinations of people intermingling with each other, including "Captain Trips", a former spy -turned Acid advocate hanging out with Aldous Huxley and both opining on the transformative nature of the drug. There are so many strange intersections of culture, psychology, politics, drug culture, horrifying military research, and overall weird agendas that I can see now that the sixties were far weirder than I'd ever thought.
The authors also note how LSD can be sort of a neutral mind-expanding agent that depends a lot upon context and environment, thus they have a fairly open-minded attitude about how it can be both used and abused. The book was neither strictly ruling it out as automatically inducing incurable psychosis and brain damage, or naively endorsing it as a social cure-all, the way Ginsberg and others did (who sound surprisingly daffy, given how informed and erudite Ginsberg was-- ah! hindsight!)
I also loved the part about the New Left and how acid played a part in giving the movement an almost magical-thinking type of mentality, losing sight of what was really realistic. It also confirmed my suspicions about certain types of radicals who have no patience with the more mundane aspects of activism (the so-called "Action" faction of the radical movement who thought organizers were boring sell-outs-- there are still these types of radicals today. Adrenaline junkies who have no patience for boring tasks and basically rationalize their tendencies as being 'pure'. Ugh!)
That chapter even put Manson's wacky revolutionary paranoia into context, and how his followers could actually believe his apocalyptic theories (including a series of underground lakes beneath Death Valley!!!) as you see how repeated use of the drug, along with severe isolation and cultish behavior, could make people really nuts. (Having just read a lot of stuff about the Family, I was puzzled how people could be so stupid and crazy; this chapter really puts that into context- how so many people were anticipating a violent revolution).
This book also has some humor, some horror, and a lot of insight. Very readable. Literally hard to put down. Highly recommended.