Simon Cotton reviews this up-to-date guide to the spectrum of psychoactive drugs
Turn on and tune in: psychedelics, narcotics and euphoriants
Cambridge: RSC 2009 | Pp163 | £24.95 | ISBN 978 1 84 755909 8
Reviewed by Simon Cotton
For the past 50 years, drugs have scarcely ever been out of the news. Quality books already exist on individual drugs or families of drugs. Additionally, cocaine and its links with criminal fraternities have led to several works, like Dominic Streatfeild's Cocaine, Robert Sabbag's Snowblind and Mark Bowden's Killing Pablo.
In contrast, Mann's book features the whole spectrum of psychoactive drugs, ranging from magic mushrooms to opium and from amphetamines to LSD, examining the history of their use as well as their effects upon the human body. The book is up-to-date and well-informed.
This book is written for the non-specialist and contains some interesting anecdotes: read about opium, for example, and you will find how the Americans lost the war in Vietnam. Mann includes quotations from writers as diverse as Sacha Shulgin, Shakespeare and Baudelaire, and mentions long-forgotten people like Oliver North, or times like the Haight-Ashbury's 1967 Summer of love. This is a splendidly interesting and entertaining book, which I thoroughly recommend.