The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

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by Richard Davenport-Hines, R. P. Davenport-Hines
     
 

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A startling account of the history of drug abuse, this book forces us to reconsider many of our views on a controversial issue.
Spanning five centuries and several continents in a sweeping portrait of addiction, The Pursuit of Oblivion traces the history of the use and abuse of narcotics, revealing their subtle transformation from untested medicines to sources

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Overview

A startling account of the history of drug abuse, this book forces us to reconsider many of our views on a controversial issue.
Spanning five centuries and several continents in a sweeping portrait of addiction, The Pursuit of Oblivion traces the history of the use and abuse of narcotics, revealing their subtle transformation from untested medicines to sources of idle pleasure and, relatively recently, to illegal substances. Richard Davenport-Hines, an eminent, prize-winning historian, uncovers the centrality of drug abuse in our modern industrial society, from the drug habits of Charles Dickens and John F. Kennedy to today's $400 billion annual worldwide trade in illicit drugs (the same volume as the oil industry). A vivid portrayal of the people and events that have shaped the history of narcotics, The Pursuit of Oblivion reveals that, contrary to the assumption underlying current drug policies, our need to escape reality and our body's need for physical pleasure are both ineradicable aspects of our humanity, unchangeable by government initiative.

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Editorial Reviews

D.M. Fahey - Choice
“A good read: lively, anecdotal, and written with the reader in mind.”
Boston Phoenix
“Factually detailed and rich in anecdote.”
Virginia Quarterly Review
“Accomplished with authority and flair.”
Christine Keneally - The New York Times
“Highly absorbing...an extremely impressive work.”
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto - The Independent
“His book is a technical triumph: well researched, well-written, well presented. . . . Moreover, it is convincing.”
San Diego Union Tribune
“An impressively researched and exhaustive volume...[that] should be considered definitive.”
Boston Globe
“Pragmatic and persuasive, full of fascinating lore and intelligent interpretation... overwhelming evidence and penetrating analysis.”
Washington Post
“A stern and sustained history...first-rate scholarship...a powerful indictment of mostly failed policy.”
Phillip Knightley - Sunday Times [London]
“The most important study on this subject in years, perhaps ever.”
The Week
“America has exported bad drug policy since the Civil War, the book shows.”
Philip Jenkins
“[A] highly literate and readable account...an author who is thoroughly conversant with the international and intercontinental aspects of drug policy.”
James R. Kincaid
“An amazing, knock-your-socks-off book, argued with depth and cunning....A stunning and vital book.”
Roy Porter - Literary Review
“The best general account of the subject...thoroughly researched and expertly written.”
Choice - D.M. Fahey
“A good read: lively, anecdotal, and written with the reader in mind.”
The New York Times - Christine Keneally
“Highly absorbing...an extremely impressive work.”
The Independent - Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
“His book is a technical triumph: well researched, well-written, well presented. . . . Moreover, it is convincing.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“An impressively researched and exhaustive volume...[that] should be considered definitive.”
Sunday Times [London] - Phillip Knightley
“The most important study on this subject in years, perhaps ever.”
Literary Review - Roy Porter
“The best general account of the subject...thoroughly researched and expertly written.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393325454
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/19/2003
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
586
Sales rank:
1,393,018
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.30(d)

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