High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society

( 9 )

Overview

A pioneering neuroscientist shares his story of growing up in one of Miami's toughest neighborhoods and how it led him to his groundbreaking work in drug addiction.

As a youth, Carl Hart didn't realize the value of school; he studied just enough to stay on the basketball team. At the same time, he was immersed in street life. Today he is a cutting-edge neuroscientist—Columbia University's first tenured African American professor in the ...

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High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society

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Overview

A pioneering neuroscientist shares his story of growing up in one of Miami's toughest neighborhoods and how it led him to his groundbreaking work in drug addiction.

As a youth, Carl Hart didn't realize the value of school; he studied just enough to stay on the basketball team. At the same time, he was immersed in street life. Today he is a cutting-edge neuroscientist—Columbia University's first tenured African American professor in the sciences—whose landmark, controversial research is redefining our understanding of addiction.

In this provocative and eye-opening memoir, he recalls his journey of self-discovery and weaves his past and present. Hart goes beyond the hype of the antidrug movement as he examines the relationship among drugs, pleasure, choice, and motivation, both in the brain and in society. His findings shed new light on common ideas about race, poverty, and drugs, and explain why current policies are failing.

Though Hart escaped neighborhoods that were dominated by entrenched poverty and the knot of problems associated with it, he has not turned his back on his roots. Determined to make a difference, he tirelessly applies his scientific research to help save real lives. But balancing his former street life with his achievements today has not been easy—a struggle he reflects on publicly for the first time.

A powerful story of hope and change, of a scientist who has dedicated his life to helping others, High Price will alter the way we think about poverty, race, and addiction—and how we can effect change.

Winner of the 2014 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Combining memoir, popular science, and public policy, Hart’s study lambasts current drug laws as draconian and repressive, arguing that they’re based more on assumptions about race and class than on a real understanding of the physiological and societal effects of drugs. Growing up in a poor, predominantly African-American neighborhood in Miami in the 1970s and ’80s, Hart, now a Columbia University neuroscientist, was rarely encouraged to excel academically, and he was too often witness to institutional racism and violence in his own community. Still, despite its deprivations, this background also gave Hart certain advantages later in life, such as a more empathetic relationship with the subjects of his studies on the effects of crack cocaine and other drugs and a more realistic view of what role such drugs actually play in society. Central to his work is the idea that addiction is actually a combination of physiological and social factors, and the use of drugs does not itself lead to violence and crime. Drug laws, he argues, place minorities into a “vicious cycle of incarceration and isolation,” and the most rational policy choice would be decriminalization of all such substances. His is a provocative clarion call for students of sociology and policy-makers alike. Photos. Agent: Marc Gerald and Sasha Raskin, the Agency Group. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
A hard-hitting attack on current drug policy by Hart (Psychology and Psychiatry/Columbia Univ.), a neuroscientist who grew up on the streets of one of Miami's toughest neighborhoods. "[W]e have been bamboozled," he writes, "to believe that cocaine, heroine, methamphetamine or some other drug du jour is so dangerous that any possession or use of it should not be tolerated and deserves to be severely punished." Hart debunks claims that the use of crack cocaine is more dangerous than other forms of the drug and therefore should be punished more severely--a distinction that penalizes ghetto users who are the most typical crack users. Offering experimental data and his own personal experiences, he takes issue with the idea that addiction is strictly biological rather than a complex combination of cultural, social and psychological facts. Initially accepting prevailing notions about addiction, his own research over two decades convinced him that only 15 percent of frequent drug users are addicted. Reflecting on his experiences growing up in the ghetto, Hart realized that social environment was as important as the availability of street drugs. His own remarkable path to success included a large component of good luck. Since he hoped to become a professional athlete, he didn't drop out of high school, as did many of his friends, and he moderated his use of alcohol and drugs. When he failed to win an athletic scholarship, he joined the military. Although he was involved in criminal street activity, Hart was fortunate in avoiding arrest and a criminal record that would have disqualified him from the military and the track to higher education. In his view, the focus on illegal drug trafficking "obfuscates the real problems faced by marginalized people," and neuroscientific research focuses too much on the action of neurotransmitters to explain addiction. An eye-opening, absorbing, complex story of scientific achievement in the face of overwhelming odds.
John Tierney
“It’s a fascinating combination of memoir and social science: wrenching scenes of deprivation and violence accompanied by calm analysis of historical data and laboratory results.”
Boston Globe
“Moving and inspiring…. Hart’s memoir… is deeply honest and often painful. And his account of the ways in which scientific evidence has been ignored in the war on drugs is as alarming as it is fascinating.”
Scientific American
“Hart’s account of rising from the projects to the ivory tower is as poignant as his call to change the way society thinks about race, drugs and poverty.”
Huffington Post
“It’s not every day you read a book that blows the lid off everything you’ve ever been taught about drugs, but Dr. Carl Hart’s recent work…does just that. Part memoir, part myth-buster…a fast-paced read.”
Ebony.com
“Perhaps nowhere has a voice been more resonant in a single place than in Dr. Carl Hart’s profoundly impacting new memoir, High Price.”
Kristen Gwynne
“In his new book High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, Carl Hart blowsapart the most common myths about drugs and their impact on society.”
Gabriel Grand
“Hart’s autobiography weaves personal memoir, Drug Science 101, and enlightened discussions of American racial politics into one engaging narrative.”
New Pittsburgh Courier
“This mixing of personal story and hard research is interesting and appealing, in part because Hart isn’t preachy and partly due to his unique history as someone who actually lived that which he’s trying to help others avoid.”
LA Sentinel
“A seminal contribution to the conversation about the intersection of the legal system and drug addiction from a bodacious brother with both street credibility and academic credentials.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062015884
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Pages: 340
  • Sales rank: 648,169
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.26 (d)

Meet the Author

A recognized master of mystery and spinetingling suspense, Carolyn Hart has written four previous Henrie O mysteries: Dead Man's Island(an Agatha Award winner). Scandal in Fair Haven (nominated for both an Agatha and Macavity Award), Death in Lover's Lane, and Death in Paradise. She has been nominated for and has won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards for the books in her popular Death on Demand series, and is one of the founders of Sisters in Crime. Mrs. Hart lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    This is a remarkable story. The details about drug use is incred

    This is a remarkable story. The details about drug use is incredible - far beyond a mere antidrug policy, but delving into the neurological pleasures. Written in a highly interesting mixture of past and present. Highly recommended.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2014

    Dr. Carl Hart writes an intriguing semi-autobiographical scienti

    Dr. Carl Hart writes an intriguing semi-autobiographical scientific treatise for anyone to consider.  Utilizing his training as a scientist, he debunks current wisdom of drug society and gives the reader an alternative to consider, the decriminalization of drugs.  Without actually stating as thus, Hart does point a finger towards a 1984-esque style of thinking about drugs and their control, turning conventional wisdom on its head. Overall, well worth the read. 

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2014

    Insightful and passionate education read!

    Dr. Carl Hart's auto-buographical research novel is compelling and pedagogic all in one. Dr. Hart's ability to recant his past and intertwine it into his research and thirst for discovery almost made me want to go into neuroscience myself. This is a great read for anyone who is interested in bridging the gap in academia between low and high socio-econimcal backgrounds. I have been encapsulated in this book since purchasing it, I would highly recommend it if you have an open mind and thirst for knowledge on disparity and each persons motivation for success.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    A real eye opener!

    Dr Hart skillfully explains both the science and the many other factors which SHOULD be determining our drug policies. It is amzing how thoroughly and factually misinformed we are.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2013

    Great read.

    This book gives you a different take on the war on drugs. It challenges ideas about addiction, race and class. In many ways it is the classic American rags to riches story, but what makes it unique is the incite into drug research and policy which is seamlessly woven in. Hip and funny, smart, but written for the layman.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2014

    Great book

    The book is both a personal testimonial and an informative source of information. I thoroughly enjoied it n learned from it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2014

    Interesting, thought provoking

    Makes you re-think the whole drug policy debate in this country. It is both autobiographical as well as presenting scientific research on drugs and mental illness. Again, I think anyone who is interested on where we need to go with our drug policies, only needs to read this book. It should be required reading for policy makers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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