Busted: Stoned Cowboys, Narco-Lords, and Washington's War on Drugs

Busted: Stoned Cowboys, Narco-Lords, and Washington's War on Drugs

by Mike Gray, Oliver Stone, Charles Bowden, Rowena Young
     
 

Thirty years ago Richard Nixon called drugs "the modern curse of youth" and launched the modern "War on Drugs" as we know it. Thirty years later, even the conservative National Review has said, "The War on Drugs has failed." Spanning three decades, Busted tells readers why, charting the violence, chaos, and corruption that the War on Drugs has spawned. It includes

Overview


Thirty years ago Richard Nixon called drugs "the modern curse of youth" and launched the modern "War on Drugs" as we know it. Thirty years later, even the conservative National Review has said, "The War on Drugs has failed." Spanning three decades, Busted tells readers why, charting the violence, chaos, and corruption that the War on Drugs has spawned. It includes frontline reporting from all over the world, literary journalism, public records, and provocative commentary from the left and right. P. J. O'Rourke writes, "Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows.... Prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could." And Christopher Hitchens has charged that the drug war involves "a demented overseas entanglement, with off-the-record U.S. military aircraft running shady missions over Colombia and Peru, and high-level collaboration with ruthless and unaccountable ‘Special Forces.' Colombia doesn't look any more like the U.S. as a result, but the U.S. does look a lot more like Colombia." From the crack dens of South Central L.A. to Iran Contra, from Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" to Plan Columbia, here is a collection of the most provocative, dissenting writing on the drug wars. Contributors include Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn, William Buckley Jr., Milton Friedman, Gary Webb, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Andrew and Leslie Cockburn, and a jailhouse interview with General Manuel Noriega by Oliver Stone.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In assessing the famed campaign of the subtitle, Gray (Drug Crazy) has brought together 33 contributors, often journalist-analysts with access to sources that vary from coca farmers in Colombia to former drug czar Barry McCaffrey. The majority agrees that the war on drugs is an exercise in futility. Journalist Ethan Nadelmann believes the policy has failed because U.S. politicians prefer "rhetoric to reality, and moralism to pragmatism." Craig Reinarman and Joshua Wolf Shenk probe the psychology behind Americans' legal, illegal, and prescribed relationships to mind-altering substances, and report that U.S. drug warriors "fear Dutch drug policy like the Catholic Church feared Galileo." Rowena Young considers drug use a false antidote to feelings of purposeless and social isolation. To make the point more concretely, Philippe Bourgois asks a crack dealer in East Harlem how he feels about selling drugs; the man responds: "I hate the people! I hate the environment!...But it's like you get caught up with it....Another day another dollar." Rolling Stone writer T.D. Allman asks a group of Colombian drug farmers whether they want to get out of the coca business, and they answer with a resounding "yes." Roger Hernandez of the Farmers' Association cries out, "We are victims of the drug consumers. We need help to break the circle." Gray, chair of the advocacy group Common Sense for Drug Policy, has collected a vibrant group of thinkers; the opinions are diverse, and the quality of writing consistently high. Most of what they say won't be surprising to critics of U.S. drug policy, but having the arguments in one place and in an accessible format should be a boon to campus and lay readers. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Writers from a broad political spectrum assemble their voices to clobber the pathetic, irresponsible, and murderous war on drugs. From magazines as diverse as The Nation and Playboy, Gray has drawn these essays lambasting the drug policy still being pursued by the government. Among the 32 pieces can be found Milton Friedman decrying the inherent racism of our drug policy, and William F. Buckley Jr. pursuing a utilitarian tact, taking into account the lives and dollars spent enforcing drug laws or, potentially, not enforcing them. Christopher Hitchens is enraged that "three decades of this grotesque, state-sponsored racketeering have led to unbelievable levels of political corruption and to an unheard-of assault on civil and political liberties." His notion is expanded on in one of the true gems here, Graham Boyd and Jack Hitt’s citation of infringements on the Bill of Rights due to the drug war. These include the threatened arrest of doctors who even mention the use of marijuana for medical purposes, curtailments of the freedoms of religion and assembly, the practice of unreasonable search and seizure, the use of self-incrimination and cruel punishments, and the setting aside of trial by jury. Episodes of people being "assaulted in their homes by SWAT teams waving machine guns, spewing foul language, threatening to shoot people, and trashing the house" have become everyday business. Charles Bowden contributes his customary whispery, terrifying material, this time on the life of an informant, and P.J. O’Rourke manages to lift readers’ spirits with his sidelong commentary: "I don’t do drugs anymore. They interfere with the Prozac, lithium, Viagra, and painkillers." If you weren’t alreadysuspicious of the "war on drugs" and this collection fails to dissuade you, then you probably work for the DEA.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560254324
Publisher:
Nation Books
Publication date:
11/28/2002
Series:
Nation Bks.
Pages:
350
Sales rank:
1,208,566
Product dimensions:
6.07(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.78(d)

Meet the Author


Mike Gray is the author of Drug Crazy and the screenwriter of The China Syndrome. He has produced the award-winning documentaries American Revolution and The Murder of Fred Hampton. Gray has written for The Nation, the Los Angeles Times, and Rolling Stone. He is the chair of Common Sense for a Drug Policy, a D.C.-based pressure group.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >