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A Brief History of Drugs: From the Stone Age to the Stoned Age Paperback – May 1, 1999
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"This book examines natural substances used by different cultures to alter the mind. Makes for interesting, thought provoking reading.", American Herb Association, Vol 16:4
From the Back Cover
“A fascinating and informative history of humankind’s checkered and often ambivalent relationship with psychoactive plants and drugs. From the role of the opium poppy in ancient Mesopotamia and the ergot-based mystery cult of Eleusis, through the opium wars in China and the persecution of medieval herbalist witches, up to the ‘psychedelic rebellion’ of the sixties and the insanities of the current ‘war on drugs,’ Escohotado covers an enormous subject with scholarly acumen and brings the light of reason to bear on topics often shrouded in bigotry, ignorance, and cupidity. Highly recommended!”
--Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., author of The Unfolding Self and Green Psychology
From remote antiquity to the present era of designer drugs and draconian interdiction, drugs have played a prominent role in the cultural, spiritual, and social development of civilizations. A Brief History of Drugs shows how the story of drugs illuminates the story of humanity, exploring the long relationship between human beings and mind-altering substances. Marijuana, for example, has been used in India since time immemorial to stimulate mental agility and sexual prowess, and a census in 312 c.e. revealed nearly 800 stores in the city of Rome devoted to selling opium. Similar examples can be found in cultures as diverse as the Celts, the ancient Egyptians, the Aztecs, and other peoples around the world.
Professor Escohotado also examines the present-day differences between drug tolerant societies like the Netherlands and Switzerland and countries advocating complete repression of these substances. He provides a comprehensive analysis of the enormous social costs of the drug war that is coming under increasing fire from all corners of society. Ultimately, A Brief History of Drugs demonstrates that drugs have been used by all societies, and the contribution they have made to humanity’s development has been enormous. The task we face today is to better understand them, instead of continuing to indiscriminately demonize them. “Just say no,” says Escohotado, is not an option. Just say “know” is.
ANTONIO ESCOHOTADO is a professor of philosophy and social science methodology at the National University of Distance Education in Madrid, Spain. He travels widely, offering lectures and seminars on the subject of drugs and history.
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Top international reviews
All in all, a great little book which hints at the depth of Escohotado's "Historia de las Drogas". This was originally published in three volumes and is now available as one, huge tome in Spanish. I only wish my Spanish was up to reading it.
This brings me to the matter of the translation, which is atrocious. The translator, Kenneth A. Symington, does not seem to have the first idea of how to render the text into readable English. All too often, I could identify the original Spanish grammatical structure in the English text, as if he had simply translated word for word. It makes for a very heavy read. At times, I lost track of the subject of the sentence, as the translation rambled incoherently on. However, I have ignored the incompetent translation when giving the star rating...
I really hope that if the American publishers decide to produce any more of Escohotado's work, they'll find a different translator. It deserves better than this.