- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (January 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1620408902
- ISBN-13: 978-1620408902
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 241 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (816 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs 1st Edition
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"A compassionate and humane argument to overturn draconian drug policies." - Kirkus Reviews
"Hari has made a stimulating hybrid of a book--simultaneously a readable history of the war on drugs and a powerful case for radical reform." - Publishers Weekly
"Breath-taking . . . A powerful contribution to an urgent debate." - John Harris, The Guardian
"Check out Johann Hari's extraordinary new book Chasing the Scream, one of the best books I've ever read about the world of drugs." - Touré, MSNBC
"A riveting book." - San Francisco Chronicle
"A terrific book." - Bill Maher
"Wonderful. I couldn't put it down." - Noam Chomsky
"An absolutely stunning book. It will blow people away." - Elton John
"This book is as intoxicatingly thrilling as crack, without destroying your teeth. It will change the drug debate forever." - Russell Brand
"Superb journalism and thrilling story-telling." - Naomi Klein
"Johann Hari's book is the perfect antidote to the war on drugs, one of the most under-discussed moral injustices of our time. It combines rigorous research and deeply human story-telling. It will prompt an urgently-needed debate." - Glenn Greenwald
"Amazing and bracing and smart. It’s really revolutionary." - Dan Savage
"An astounding book . . . You have to read it." - Amy Goodman, host of DEMOCRACY NOW!
"Incredibly insightful and provocative." - B.J. Novak, writer for THE OFFICE
"Chasing the Scream vividly paints the war on drugs as the century-long bad LSD trip that it is; in doing so it sticks a big nail in its coffin." - Ioan Grillo, author of EL NARCO
"Johann Hari has written a drug policy reform book like no other. Many have studied, or conducted, the science surrounding the manifold ills of drug prohibition. But Hari puts it all into riveting story form, and humanizes it . . . Chasing the Scream is beautifully wrought: lively, humorous, and poignant. And, it's a compelling case for why the drug war must end, yesterday." - Norman Stamper, former chief of the Seattle Police
"This book is an entertainment, a great character study, and page-turning story-telling all rolled into one very sophisticated and compelling cry for social justice." - Stephen Downing, former deputy chief, LAPD
About the Author
Johann Hari was a columnist for the Independent in London for nine years and was twice named Newspaper Journalist of the Year by Amnesty International UK. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, Slate, the New Republic, and the Nation, among others. He has also been awarded the Comment Award for Cultural Commentator of the Year by Editorial Intelligence, and has been named Journalist of the Year by Stonewall. Hari lives in London.
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Top Customer Reviews
But less than halfway through the first chapter, I couldn’t put it down – it’s an amazing read. Johann has done something really phenomenal with this book, by combining compelling storytelling with the factual highlights of the abominable history of the war on drugs, plus an undeniable blueprint for replacing that war.
For drug policy experts like me, it’s a great read with some fascinating personal perspectives, while filling in a few historical knowledge gaps. Definitely a reading highlight.
But if you're an average politically-aware reader who doesn’t know all that much about the drug war, I think you'll find it even more valuable. Here, in one book, you get good stories with all the verified information you need to become informed on this critical issue. I plan on buying a few copies to give to friends to read.
Additionally, you'll learn through detailed analysis that much of what you think you know about addiction is wrong.
Hari starts with the biggest villain of all — Harry Anslinger — by researching through all his diaries and files stored at Penn State University. I’ve known mostly about Anslinger’s war against marijuana, and now learned a few more things about what he did to get the war on drugs started in full force in the book.
Johann Hari provides us, throughout the book, with incredible access to individual players in the drug war. For the history, in addition to Anslinger, his research provides detailed insights into:
-- Billy Holiday, a jazz singer and drug user whose paths crossed with Anslinger’s, and
-- Arnold Rothstein, who invented the modern drug gang, and was the first major figure in organized drug crime in the United States.
And as Hari moved us to the present and future, these personal stories came from actual extensive interviews with an amazing array of individuals, including:
-- Chino Hardin, a drug dealer for years in Brooklyn, who started his business when he was 14 years old.
-- Leigh Maddox, a state trooper who later turned away from the drug war.
-- Rosalio Reta, a killer for the Zetas in Mexico, who resides in a prison in Texas.
-- Marisela Escobedo, who refused to accept her daughter’s murder by drug traffickers, and led protests in Mexico, until she was assassinated in front of the government palace (interviews were with family and friends).
-- Gabor Maté and Bruce Alexander, who developed new ways of looking at addiction, while working with addicts in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
-- Bud Osborn, a poet and homeless addict who helped transform that area of Vancouver and bring about the notion of rights for addicts.
-- Ruth Dreifuss, former President of Switzerland, who supported and promoted harm reduction approaches, including heroin clinics.
-- João Goulão, who helped lead a revolution in drug policy in Portugal.
-- José Mujica, president of Uruguay, who brought marijuana legalization to his country.
… and we learn about the players in the very different legalization approaches in Washington and Colorado.
Good stories, compelling arguments, and powerful facts (all fact-checked by the author and editors, with over 65 pages of notes, and a website with actual audio tapes of the interviews for those who want more).
I think this is the most important book about the drug war and addiction out today.
No matter that the examples of Portugal, Switzerland and Vancouver are imperfect models for the US, and may not work well on the scale required in a society as fractured as the US. No matter that there is no obvious or easy solution to the deeper issues of disconnectedness and isolation that Hari identifies, perhaps accurately, perhaps not, as prerequisites of addiction.
Start with the principle that you will make drugs available to those that want or need them, in whatever form suits them, regulate dosages and purity, tax the transaction, and invest those receipts in compassionate treatment and oversight for the minority that becomes addicted, and you have already accomplished so much. You have taken money and power away from violent drug gangs. You have removed the incentive for addicts to steal. You have reduced illness and death from overdose, impure drugs, and blood-borne illness such as HIV and hepatitis. And...
You have replaced pursuing, capturing, judging and punishing people with a sickness they cannot control with compassion and inclusion. Instead of stigmatizing them as unemployable outcasts with few good options in life, you are telling them that their lives matter, that they are sick but not pariahs, that help is available to them if and when they want it. If the benefits of this were only symbolic, they would be tremendous if only in what they said about our society and how it treats its saddest and most vulnerable. It would make everyone feel better and warmer towards each other. I know that sounds like hippie b.s., but think about it.
It does appear that there are real benefits to trying the taxation/treatment route. Who knows what the best model is, or how well any of them would apply on the grand dystopian panorama that is US society. But we do know one thing: the current paradigm is hopelessly broken in about every way you can imagine. It is the poster child of bad policy, with every kind of counterproductive outcome and none of the hoped-for benefits. We have to try a different way.
Of course, this is a book review, and all I've done is say that I agree with the author's main point. It is an imperfect book, and I'd like to read more on a subject I've contemplated for decades. But hell, if mediocre writing and an author with a checkered past are what's required to popularize such an important set of points to the world, I am willing to overlook the flaws and focus on carrying on the discussion. In the sense of the ideas it is selling, and much of the evidence presented on their behalf, this is a great, great book.
It's well-cited & has plenty of links, so any ideas of plagiarism or factiousness should be researched before throwing accusations. (Plenty of links, citations, etc.)
He's honest about his conflictions and changes in people's stories. I have buried more friends between 20-40 due to heroin/pills (& a few drunk driving,) than most can imagine. I know all too well that even people who "know better" can still become addicted. There is so much isolation in being an addict, causing further withdrawl from society & unwillingness to tell friends/family for fear of being judged. When you're an addict, one often feels as if there's nobody else who understands...except your sick addict running buddies. I was a professional, it took me almost a year to kick, and after a while I told everyone who didn't know. I was ostracized, except by 2 people who I NEVER expected to have any compassion for me (those were the friends I *thought* I'd lose. They gave me comfort & love.) Punative measures aren't helpful for addiction, mental illness, etc.
My fair city is cited a few times in this book as Anslinger was severely delusional in his pursuit to punish all addicts, and I see the faces of desperate addicts every day. I know how corrupt my PD is.
While he lays out info in a somewhat informal way (cited!,) it paints a human picture. It's a GREAT read in tandem with "The New Jim Crow." (Alexander.)