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Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction Hardcover – June 26, 2012
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A Look Inside Opium Fiend
|Opium smokers in an opulent private smoking room in San Francisco’s Chinatown, photographed by I. W. Taber in 1886. These men are reclining on a “bed” especially made for the purpose of opium smoking.||Complete layout of paraphernalia for opium smoking from the author’s collection. The components date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and were crafted in China. (Photograph by Paul Lakatos)||The author smoking opium at his Bangkok apartment in 2007. During this time he was nursing a twenty-pipe-per-day opium habit. (Photograph by Jack Barton)|
Advance praise for Opium Fiend
“Steven Martin’s fascinating memoir runs so much deeper than the standard literature about drugs. Whereas most writers never move beyond obsessive descriptions of physical effects, Martin’s true interests are cultural and intellectual: He connects the urge of the drug addict with the compulsion of the art collector. By the end of this book you’ll have a new sympathy for both kinds of fiend.”—Peter Hessler, author of River Town and Country Driving
“Steven Martin writes with a wit and style every bit as intoxicating as his subject. Entwining endlessly fascinating exotic detail with soul-searing personal revelation, this remarkable author has produced a driving, powerful autobiography unlike any of the countless narco-memoirs cluttering the shelves today. One warning to potential readers: Opium Fiend is the kind of book that makes the rest of the world disappear. It draws you in from the very first page, until you stagger out, blinking at the sun, not sure you ever wanted it to end. Dim the lights, lock the doors, and prepare to be addicted. The kick’s a bitch, but the high is like nothing else in the world.”—Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight
“Opium Fiend is the most engaging memoir of the year. What begins as Steven Martin's search into the lost history of opium—whose trade was once as consequential to empires as oil is today—becomes a harrowing exploration of the liberating, enlightening, and enslaving ecstasies of a forbidden pipe. It’s a tale not so much of addiction but of self-immolating obsession. While crafting a spellbinding literary read, Martin never loses focus on his original aim. Opium Fiend stands as a fascinating, never-before-told social history of the poppy blossom’s central place in the rise and fall of nations. As addictive as its subject matter, Opium Fiend should come with a warning that it may lead to lost nights and weekends of intensely pleasurable reading.”—Evan Wright, author of Generation Kill and Hella Nation
“This is a beautiful book. Opium Fiend is clear and honest. I don’t know that I have ever been invested in anything with the intellectual and emotional intensity that Martin has for his subject, and there is great romance and literary truth in how the object of his desire is also his undoing.”—Karl Taro Greenfeld, author of Speed Tribes, Boy Alone, and Triburbia