- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (June 26, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312286244
- ISBN-13: 978-0312286248
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography Hardcover – June 26, 2002
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Cocaine, writes filmmaker Dominic Streatfeild, "is not some evil spawn of Satan but simply a commodity." Like other commodities, cocaine has a history. When the Spanish conquistadors came to South America and observed that Indians who chewed the leaves of Erythroxylon coca could, it seemed, march over the tallest mountain or through the densest forest for days on end, they knew they were onto something. The newcomers took to growing coca themselves, and in time their product found an audience outside the continent, with users such as Sigmund Freud, Ernest Shackleton (who "took Forced March cocaine tablets to Antarctica in 1909 for the energy boost they gave"), Duke Ellington, and, eventually, half of Hollywood to testify to its powers. Streatfeild's appropriately rapid narrative takes in such key moments and players as "the year of cocaine" 1969, when the film Easy Rider reintroduced the drug to American popular culture, and George Jung, whose exploits are chronicled in Ted Demme's film Blow, to create a portrait of the drug that ranges over centuries. Though he supports legalization, Streatfeild acknowledges the evil and corruption surrounding the trade. Drawing lessons from history, he also suggests the possibility that "cocaine will fizzle out in the year 2015 the way it did in the early twentieth century." At the close of this absorbing book, he adds, "It deserves to." --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
Boil off Streatfeild's informal tone a mix of self-deprecation and gonzo-journalist swagger and what's left is a fascinating and richly detailed story of the world's most notorious drug and an illicit $92-billion-a-year industry. Streatfeild, a British documentary film producer, visits its every outpost, from Bronx crack houses and Amazonian coca plantations to Bolivian prisons and the compounds of South American drug lords. He launches the story with a history of the coca leaf and its prominent place in both ancient and contemporary consciousness, tackling race, poverty, class, violence, mythology and xenophobia as seen through the prism of cocaine. There are countless strands to the story, and Streatfeild follows every one: the rise of the Colombian cartels, government collusion with traffickers, the crack phenomenon, media hype, the U.S. war on drugs and the legalization debate. The author lights up the myriad figures who feature in cocaine's history: Columbus, Freud, Pablo Escobar, Manuel Noriega, George Jung, even Richard Pryor and the late basketball star Len Bias. He picks the brains of botanists and economists, lawmen and guerrillas, addicts and kingpins, and travels extensively throughout the Americas. The main drawback: Streatfeild's insistence that the reader be privy to superfluous research details such as fizzled leads, false starts, wrong turns and boring authors. In the end, though, Streatfeild delivers a straight tale about a world where nothing is as it seems.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
I was particularly shocked and surprised by the revelation that Sigmund Freud and his ilk consumed prodigious amounts of cocaine, even to the point of psychotic behavior and failing health, while formulating their theories. I wish I had been able to read the book before college. An absolute must-read for anyone who even dimly suspects that Freud was a quack, and that his theories of psychiatry are a crock. It is inconceivable to me that so-called "intelligent and highly educated" individuals could be unaware that the Father of Modern Psychiatry was a delusional addict, and that the rest of us should venerate them as Doctors. The mental gymnastics that would be required to resolve the obvious and odious falsehoods that underpin the foundation of modern psychiatry with the practice of the craft go a long ways towards explaining the popular caricature of "shrinks" as odd and "out-there" weirdoes.
Rant over. A very informative and interesting book. Highly recommended.
Dominic Streatfield puts himself front and center in the book, and I found his humor and candor very easy to read and funny. Some may not appreciate the informality, but I thought it was great.
I teach college courses and i will use information from this book in my classes. It is not a textbook, but it could be, as least some of the chapters, and I mean that in a good way. If you ever had a lay person's misunderstanding about the differences between crack and cocaine, this is the book to read.
I originally bought this book at a dollar store years ago, read it through, and gave it to a relative. I wanted to recall some of the information from it so I bought a second copy, lost that one traveling and bought a third one. i want this book in my library.
This book covers everything: the history, Freud, the druglords, the Sandinistas, how cocaine benefits the economies of Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and Mexico, etc.
The author also includes nuggets not found in other books on cocaine, like firsthand accounts of cocaine use dating back hundreds of years, how crack got started, and what "free basing" really means.
Most recent customer reviews
Most addictive, long association with humans, hard to grow and extremely flexible why wouldn't you?