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This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America Paperback – September 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Admitting that "so much has been written on drug use and American culture that it would take weeks to roll all of that paper up and smoke it," journalist Grim plunges into the counterculture, the literature, the research, the opposition, the pharmaceutical interests, the media coverage, the kids and users, the heroes and the hypocrites to chart the evolution of drug use in America, covering every illegal high, taking on well-entrenched myths and turning up fascinating stories on current trends-beginning with the end of LSD. Backed by plenty of startling facts (i.e., 1984's drug-related criminal population was 30,000; by 1991 it was more than 150,000), Grim fashions a sharp critique of anti-drug programs ("exposure to anti-drug ads led to higher rates of first-time drug use among certain groups, such as fourteen-to-sixteen year olds and whites") and other policy decisions (President Clinton's approval of NAFTA led to an unprecedented influx of drugs across the Mexican border). Grim isn't all talk, however: he barely survives on-site research during drug riots in Bolivia, goes through a typically fraught trip on ayahuasca, and scouts the battlefields of the fight to legalize cannabis ("In San Francisco, pot clubs quickly outnumbered McDonald's franchises"). This lively, personable history should strike fans of Martin Torgoff's Can't Find My Way Home as a worthy follow-up. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
""One of the theses of This Is Your Country on Drugs -- a cornucopia of unconventional wisdom about our relationship to mind-altering substances -- is that the popularity of drugs waxes and wanes according to a complex sum of factors."" (salon.com, July 20, 2009)
""Mark Kleiman calls it ""Atonishingly clear-headed and well-written, as if someone had taken David Courtwright and added just a splash of Hunter Thompson."" (Mark Klieman, TPMCafe)
""A wide-ranging, fascinating romp through the history of America's insatiable appetite for all manner of drugs, from opium to crystal meth, all the way up to the possibly soon-to-be-illegal hallucinogen Salvia divinorum."" (The Philadelphia City Paper)
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Top Customer Reviews
My one fairly significant complaint is Mr. Grim's laissez-faire approach to source attribution. Although this book is brim-full of statistics, there are no footnotes, endnotes, or even a bibliography. The 250-page book is followed by a 3-page "Notes" section that provides references to major sources in only glancing detail, but without anything approaching the specificity a reader would need to go look up the source on one's own. I suspect this stems from Grim's background as a journalist: no one wants their newspaper all cluttered up with footnotes and parentheticals, of course. However, a serious academic endeavor such as a full-length book requires far more detailed source attribution. In the "Notes" section and at several points in the text, Grim writes that he will post links to sources--particularly the numerous studies from which he gleans his many statistics--on his website, [..], but as of this posting, he has not done so. My own experience and world view make me predisposed to agree with most of Grim's theories, but the lack of attribution leaves me skeptical: I fear that those who support the country's current drug policies will point to the lack of citation (as well as Grim's unapologetic narratives of his own drug experiences) to undercut the legitimacy of his argument, and that would be a shame.
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