White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg

White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg

5.0 1
by Peter Conners
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In 1960 Timothy Leary was not yet famous—or infamous—and Allen Ginsberg was both. Leary, eager to expand his psychedelic experiments at Harvard to include accomplished artists and writers, knew that Ginsberg held the key to bohemia’s elite. “America’s most conspicuous beatnik” was recruited as Ambassador of Psilocybin under the

Overview

In 1960 Timothy Leary was not yet famous—or infamous—and Allen Ginsberg was both. Leary, eager to expand his psychedelic experiments at Harvard to include accomplished artists and writers, knew that Ginsberg held the key to bohemia’s elite. “America’s most conspicuous beatnik” was recruited as Ambassador of Psilocybin under the auspices of an Ivy League professor, and together they launched the psychedelic revolution and turned on the hippie generation. A who’s who of artists, pop culture, and political figures people this story of the life, times, and friendship of two of the most famous, charismatic, and controversial members of America’s counterculture.

Peter Conners is the author of Growing Up Dead, The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 1960, Allen Ginsberg, high on William Blake and the resounding success of his epic poem, Howl, met Timothy Leary, the new Harvard psychologist eager to convince the world that getting high on psychedelic drugs could soothe the savage beast in the human heart. Conners (Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead) splendidly brings these two mavericks back to life as he chronicles that first meeting at Leary's house and traces their growing bond as they built the bridges between the "holy trinity" (Albert Hofmann, the father of psychedelics; Aldous Huxley; and William Blake) of visionary consciousness expansion and the 1960s psychedelic movement. Along the way, we glimpse all the familiar faces of the 1960s psychedelic era--Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, who conducted their own acid tests; Jack Kerouac; William Burroughs; and Neal Cassady, among others. As Conners keenly observes, Ginsberg gave Leary entrée to the influential world of artistic America, and Leary gave Ginsberg an opportunity to expose America to powerful hallucinatory visions. Conners records Ginsberg and Leary's long, strange trip, from their earliest experiments with psilocybin to their deaths in the late 1990s. (Nov.)
Electric Review
"White Hand is notable for both the tremendous amount of new information it provides and they way that it's presented. Conners not only tells us the whens and whys but he does so by-way of a seamless narrative that puts history into relevant perspective. Obviously, Conners instinctively understands the sensibilities of both Leary and Ginsberg and he writes from the 'inside,' giving a voice to the secret details of a movement that would come to influence the course of every art form."
Washington City Paper
"Combining strong archival research (especially in the Ginsberg archives at Stanford) with a narrative flair that animates, say, a lecture Leary made in Copenhagen into something out of Kinsey. Conners traces Leary’s progress from philandering West Coast researcher to psychedelic convert and Harvard lecturer alongside Allen Ginsberg’s progression from clean-shaven Blakean to hirsute Blakean. On the way, the two join forces to convince the Youth of the virtues of acid."
San Francisco Chronicle
Conners writes like a poet and researches like a scholar. He pored over hundreds of letters, FBI files and other primary sources to shed new light on these two avatars of altered consciousness. He argues convincingly that Leary 'would have just been some square Harvard professor' without the introductions and connections that Ginsberg provided.
Popmatters
Conners maps the trail of where Ginsberg's paths intersected with Leary's over three-hundred readable, well-paced, straightforward pages.
Prague Post
"Leary's life, and his fruitful collaboration with the poet Allen Ginsberg, has been illuminated in Peter Conners' recent study, White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg, an engaging narrative which spans several decades, as well as the entire U.S., with side trips to Europe and North Africa."
From the Publisher
"A full account of the two 1960s icons who made it their cause to launch the psychedelic age…an entertaining overview of an era whose echoes still ring."—Kirkus
Kirkus Reviews
"A full account of the two 1960s icons who made it their cause to launch the psychedelic age. . . . an entertaining overview of an era whose echoes still ring."
Library Journal
Although Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary were more friendly acquaintances and fellow travelers than close friends, LSD was the common bond in their relationship, a fact that holds back any real drama from Conners's pairing here of their stories. Leary essentially partied his way out of a Harvard temporary appointment—and out of academe altogether—because of his obsession with acid. In contrast, Howl conferred upon Ginsberg the status of greatest poet of the American individual spirit since Whitman. As anecdote upon anecdote here demonstrates, Ginsberg had rich (and middling and silly) things to say about every aspect of a culture that he both exemplified and influenced. Leary was stuck on LSD, and although hanging out with Ken Kesey and living in Algerian exile under the resentful sponsorship of the Black Panthers increased his luster, he never was or could be Ginsberg's peer. While this may not have been the Conners's intent, his clear conclusion—which others before him have reached—is that Leary was a relative lightweight, certainly when compared to Ginsberg.Verdict Rich on story, absent of backstory, but a must skim for fans of Sixties counterculture memoirs.—Scott H. Silverman, Earlham Coll. Lib., Richmond, IN

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780872865358
Publisher:
City Lights Books
Publication date:
11/23/2010
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Ralph Metzner
"Peter Conners has given us a wondrous tale of picaresque adventure and authentic friendship--between Leary the trickster-explorer-scientist and Ginsberg the activist-bard-philosopher, two seminal figures who pioneered new pathways through the cultural maelstrom of the sixties." --(Ralph Metzner, co-author, with Ram Dass & Gary Bravo, of Birth of a Psychedelic Culture)
Peter Coyote
“Through the years City Lights has brought us seminal work by Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and now, this detail-rich double bio of Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary. I knew both these men pretty well, and the times intimately, and Peter Conners has been true to it all. I don’t know how he amassed the trunks of data he must have used to find the jillions of details which were new to me, but I’m certainly glad that he did. This book wins a well deserved spot on my shelf, and belongs with anyone who wants an intimate view of the Sixties-Seventies spinning of the Great Wheel of the Dharma.” --(Peter Coyote, actor/author, Sleeping Where I Fall)
Bill Morgan
"The Psychedelic Revolution of the Sixties began with the meeting of two visionary explorers into the unmapped regions of inner consciousness--Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg. In the White Hand Society Peter Conners charts the course from the earliest dirt roads of laughing gas to the superhighways of LSD in one compelling story. It is a thrilling ride on what Ginsberg called the Trackless Transit System, going where no one else had dared venture. Take this as a new kind of guidebook into the mystery of the mind." --(Bill Morgan, author of The Typewriter Is Holy: The Complete, Uncensored History of the Beat Generation)
John Higgs
"Peter Conners' White Hand Society is a gripping account of a key event in 20th Century history, the decision to actively promote strong psychedelics to the population at large. Conners tells the Timothy Leary story from the traditional perspective of the West Coast counterculture, but he emphasizes the egalitarian influence that the Beat movement had on him and, in particular, the huge Blakean personality of Allen Ginsberg. The result is a portrait of two remarkable figures who came together and changed our culture forever." --(John Higgs, author of I Have America Surrounded: The Life of Timothy Leary)

Meet the Author

Peter Conners is author of the memoir, Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead (Da Capo Press, 2009). His other books include the prose poetry collection Of Whiskey and Winter and the novella Emily Ate the Wind. His next poetry collection, The Crows Were Laughing in their Trees, is forthcoming from White Pine Press in spring 2011. He is also editor of PP/FF: An Anthology which was published by Starcherone Books in April 2006. His writing appears regularly in such journals as Poetry International, Mississippi Review, Brooklyn Rail, Fiction International, Salt Hill, Hotel Amerika, Mid-American Review, The Bitter Oleander, and Beloit Fiction Journal and will be included in the Forty Under Forty poetry anthology forthcoming from Yale University Press.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to read this book because my friends say it is a good book.