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Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs Hardcover – January 20, 2015
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"A wonderful book . . . I hope everyone will read it." - Sam Harris
"Wonderful. I couldn't put it down." - Noam Chomsky
"An absolutely stunning book. It will blow people away." - Elton John
"Superb journalism and thrilling story-telling." - Naomi Klein
"One of the world's most important and most enlightening thinkers and social critics." - Glenn Greenwald, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"A terrific book." - Bill Maher
"Incredibly insightful and provocative." - B.J. Novak, writer for THE OFFICE
"Amazing and bracing and smart. It’s really revolutionary." - Dan Savage
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.
Top customer reviews
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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.
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.)
Heroin 2015 Version
Governor Dannel Molloy of Connecticut said in his state of state address, “We can’t incarcerate our way out this heroin epidemic.” Heroin overdose deaths have tripled since 2010, according to new findings from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Why? The standard answers like Vicodin a prescription pain killers that parents should lock up or kids can get it over the internet now, addicts don’t have a strong personal charter finally schools and parents are not doing enough to address the problem. This diverts us from asking the main question. Could it be our 100 year old drug policy that has no idea the collateral damage it continues to achieve by the cruel and endless degradation of the addict called the War on Drugs? Prices for heroin are at an all time low, purity is at an all time high, it is easier to get heroin then Vicodin, more suburban-urban children are dying; this is the product of the ill-conceived policy not the addict. Something is despondently wrong and its outcome is being denied.