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The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America Paperback – January 4, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
Lattin understands that the key conflict in the 1960s wasn't so much between those who took LSD and those who didn't, but rather between those who felt that the revolution would occur if enough people took psychedelics and re-calibrated their perceptions; as opposed to those who felt that change would happen only if enough people agitated and protested, radically altering political and social structures. Lattin also understands that among those who took a great deal of LSD, there were two main outcomes: having been exposed to mystical/psychotic experiences, you either looked for ways to change your life according to what you'd seen and learned while on psychedelics; or you got hooked on the high itself, trying to repeat that experience as often and intensely as possible.
The Harvard Psychedelic Club is a wonderful book, full of insight and compassion. It also casts a cold eye on what those events mean when looked at now, 50 years after they occurred.
I just finished the book and was struck (though not too surprised) to see reports of formative episodes in the lives of authors and others whose work has influenced me. It was a big "a-ha" to see Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dan Millman, Daniel Goleman, writers who I don't immediately associate with psychedelics, and Mirabai Bush, who led a training I attended, tied to the Fab Four protagonists. The twin lenses of biography and religion are used very effectively. This text paints a vivid picture of how people blessed and cursed with extraordinary intellects responded to the question, "Is this all there is?" when graced with the means to explore it, and how they shared the results of their inquiry with the rest of us mortals. The writing is sharp, fun, and clear with a strong narrative arc. Highly recommended.
Dick Alpert (a.k.a. Baba Ram Dass) was one of my students when I taught karate for the Harvard Athletic Department in the early 1960s. Tim Leary was a long time friend I had met at the old Harvard Center for Research on Personality at 5 Divinity Avenue in 1961 and saw on and off over the years in various contexts. Tim visited with us on (as I recall) his 64th birthday and gave me a copy of a book by William S. Burroughs that Bill had given to Tim shortly before, inscribing it to him as an "old comrade in arms". (I'd first met Burroughs at Tim's house on Homer Street in Newton, MA in 1962 or so, while Bill was visiting there). Andrew Weil was a classmate (Harvard '64) though not a friend. I attended various of Houston Smith's lectures in those days, too, though I did not know him personally.
Many (perhaps most even) of the other folks mentioned in the book are also people I knew back in the '60s and '70s. Don's book does a great job conveying some of the extraordinary flavor of those remarkable times. It is a splendid introduction to this most peculiar and interesting nexus of American history for younger folks and a great 'flashback' document for all the Baby Boomers I watched tripping their way through the 60s and '70s as well!
Get this book and read it. You will enjoy it. *;-)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brings back memories of the 60's and 70's. Very useful as I was stoned and I missed it.Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
I think it interesting to learn about the deceit involved within the academic experience of four alpha males during the sixties. Read morePublished 18 days ago by William G. Niver
I had heard most of the names, but only knew that Leary was not a good one according to the church. Ram Dass, on the other hand was an author of books that interested me. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Vaun Healey
Still reading it. So far, so good. I'll give a full review when done reading it.Published 28 days ago by Michael W.
If you grew up in the sixties, like I did, or a student of this period, you will really enjoy this book. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Bill Hartman
The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin, is a fascinating look at how three Harvard University professors, and a graduate student came together in the early sixties to turn the... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Nick Vulich
Ill keep this review short. This book gave me psychedelic flashbacks when reading, it was f*c$en greatPublished 9 months ago by Robert Canchola