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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Last year, Discover selected a biography of a talented but unlikely champion: a racehorse. Seabiscuit charmed readers everywhere and became a major motion picture. This season we've again made a discovery that readers might, at first glance, think peculiar: an "unauthorized biography" of a powdery white substance. No, not salt, that's been done before. No, not snow -- at least not as it's properly defined. Our unusual choice is Dominic Streatfeild's biography of a substance that continues to enchant many and leaves a wake of casualties wherever it goes -- cocaine.
A London-based documentary film producer, Streatfeild interviewed nearly 150 subjects to assemble his compendium, including scientists, traffickers, academics, crackheads, and customs and drug enforcement agents. While others have tackled various aspects of drug use and the role cocaine has played in the growth of cartels and crime rings, no one has previously explored cocaine and its history so comprehensively or engagingly. From Freud and Conan Doyle to Richard Pryor and Pablo Escobar, Streatfeild has drawn a skilled and controversial portrait of a substance whose botanical origins reach back 40 centuries to the pre-Incan tribes who first discovered it. On the cocaine trail, in a voice wholly his own, Streatfeild details the evolution of cocaine use and addiction, the rise of crack and crack-related violence, and more. Unafraid to tackle stereotypes, Streatfeild's history is sure to raise some hackles. But then, would you expect anything else on a subject that has crossed so many different lines? (Summer 2002 Selection)