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Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond

Overview


Few events have had a more profound impact on the social and cultural upheavals of the Sixties than the psychedelic revolution spawned by the spread of LSD. This book for the first time tells the full and astounding story—part of it hidden till now in secret Government files—of the role the mind-altering drug played in our recent turbulent history and the continuing influence it has on our time.

And what a story it is, beginning with LSD’s discovery in 1943 as the most potent ...

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Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond

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Overview


Few events have had a more profound impact on the social and cultural upheavals of the Sixties than the psychedelic revolution spawned by the spread of LSD. This book for the first time tells the full and astounding story—part of it hidden till now in secret Government files—of the role the mind-altering drug played in our recent turbulent history and the continuing influence it has on our time.

And what a story it is, beginning with LSD’s discovery in 1943 as the most potent drug known to science until it spilled into public view some twenty years later to set the stage for one of the great ideological wars of the decade. In the intervening years the CIA had launched a massive covert research program in the hope that LSD would serve as an espionage weapon, psychiatric pioneers came to believe that acid would shed light on the perplexing problems of mental illness, and a new generation of writers and artists had given birth to the LSD sub-culture.

Acid Dreams is a complete social history of the psychedelic counter-culture that burst into full view in the Sixties. With new information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the authors reveal how the CIA became obsessed with LSD during the Cold War, fearing the Soviets had designs on it as well. What follows is one of the more bizarre episodes in the covert history of U.S. intelligence as the search for a “truth drug” began to resemble a James Bond scenario in which agents spied on drug-addicted prostitutes through two-way mirrors and countless unwitting citizens received acid with sometimes tragic results.

The story took a new turn when Captain Al Hubbard, the first of a series of “Johnny Appleseeds” of acid, began to turn on thousands of scientists, businessmen, church figures, policemen, and others from different walks of life.

Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters, Allen Ginsberg and the Beat generation, the Diggers and the Age of Golden Anarchy in Haight-Ashbury, William Mellon Hitchcock, Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies, the Beatles—these are just some of a motley cast of characters who stride through the pages of this compelling chronicle. What impact did the widespread use of LSD have on the anti-war movement of the late Sixties? Acid Dreams traces the way the drug intensified each stage of counter-cultural transition to break the “mind-forged manacles” of a new generation in rebellion.

In Acid Dreams, Martin Lee and Bruce Shalin have written the history of a time still only dimly understood. The events they recount and the facts they uncover supply an important missing piece of the puzzle of a crucial decade in our recent past.

Praise

“Engaging throughout. . . . At once entertaining and disturbing.”—Andrew Weil, M.D., The Nation

“Marvelously detailed . . . loaded with startling revelations.”—Los Angeles Daily News

“Excellent. . . . Captivating. . . . A generalist’s history that should replace all others.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“A landmark contribution to the sociopolitical history of the U.S. . . . Some of the liveliest, most absorbing, best-documented historical analyses to appear in recent years. . . . A seminal contribution to understanding America’s most turbulent modern decade.”—Choice

“This funny and irreverent book brings it all back.”—The Washington Post

“Recounts some of the most bizarre incidents in the history of U.S. intelligence.”—The Boston Globe

“A monumental social history of psychedelia.”—The Village Voice

“A blistering exposé of CIA drug experimentation on Americans. It’s all there.”—John Stockwell

“Highly readable. . . . Well researched. . . . Filled with entertaining and bizarre episodes.”—The Detroit Free Press

“An important study of cultural history. . . . The scholarship is exquisite and the methods sensible.”—Allen Ginsberg

“An engrossing account of a period . . . when a tiny psychoactive molecule affected almost every aspect of Western life.”—William S. Burroughs

“A missing link, a work of combat history, a devastating combination of facts and poetry that is bound to arouse controversy.”—Paul Krassner

“An important historical synthesis of the spread and effects of a drug that served as a central metaphor for an era.”—John Sayles

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This fascinating study examines how the CIA tested LSD on unwitting residents of Greenwich Village and San Francisco. Of particular interest are profiles of Timothy Leary, LSD chemist Ronald Stark and others. (May)
Booknews
A reprint of the 1985 edition with a new introduction (Andrei Codrescu) and an afterword by the authors. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802130624
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Edition description: Revised Evergreen Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 428,187
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: Whose Worlds Are These? xiii
Prologue xvii
Part 1 The Roots of Psychedelia
1. In the Beginning There Was Madness ... 3
The Truth Seekers 3
Enter LSD 12
Laboratories of the State 19
Midnight Climax 27
The Hallucination Battlefield 35
2. Psychedelic Pioneers 44
The Original Captain Trips 44
Healing Acid 53
Psychosis or Gnosis? 61
3. Under the Mushroom, Over the Rainbow 71
Manna From Harvard 71
Chemical Crusaders 77
The Crackdown 89
4. Preaching Lsd 96
High Surrealism 96
The Psychedelic Manual 106
The Hard Sell 113
5. The All-American Trip 119
The Great Freak Forward 119
Acid and the New Left 126
Part 2 Acid for the Masses
6. From Hip to Hippie 141
Before the Deluge 141
Politics of the Bummer 150
The First Human Be-In 157
7. The Capital of Forever 170
Stone Free 170
The Great Summer Dropout 179
8. Peaking in Babylon 194
A Gathering Storm 194
Magical Politics 201
Gotta Revolution 211
9. Season of the Witch 223
Armed Love 223
The Acid Brotherhood 234
Bad Moon Rising 251
10. What a Field Day for the Heat 259
Prisoner of Lsd 259
A Bitter Pill 267
The Great Lsd Conspiracy 276
Postscript: Acid and After 288
Afterword 295
References 298
Bibliography 323
Index 333
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 4, 2012

    I Loved This Book

    I Loved This Book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2002

    This will change your life

    During the course of reading this book you read about the testimonials to the drug known as acid. Many users of the drug be it for scientific or recreational speak of being 'changed' significantly after the experience, this book will do the same. Reading it will change your mind about many things: the government, your rights, drug users, philosophy and above all the drug itself. A must read for anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2001

    do you trust the government?

    lsd. acid. dose. blot. trip. whatever you call it, you'd think that it was invented by some crazy wizard over a boiling cauldron or something. although everyone knows that aint the way it is, the actual history of it WILL acutally get your attention. how many of you knew that our own government tested lsd on probably around half to 3/4 of their own men?? yeah. thats right. now read the book. learning is fun when its not forced =)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2011

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