The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

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W. W. Norton & Company, Nov 10, 2003 - History - 592 pages
9 Reviews
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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Review: The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

User Review  - Nedduh Simonson - Goodreads

Suggested pairing: 'Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk' Read full review

Review: The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Global History of Narcotics

User Review  - Jeffrey Dhywood - Goodreads

It actually reads as a novel. Well wirten and documented, a rare mix! Read full review

Contents

Early History
21
Opium during the Enlightenment
43
The Patent Age of New Inventions
61
Nerves Needles and Victorian Doctors
99
Chemistry
131
Degeneration
152
The Dawn of Prohibition
195
Lawbreaking
226
The First Drugs Czar
344
British Drug Scenes
368
Presidential Drugs Wars
420
So Passe
475
Acknowledgements
497
Notes
499
Bibliographic Note
549
Index
553

Trafficking
252
The Age of Anxiety
299

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About the author (2003)

Richard Davenport-Hines is the recipient of the Wolfson Prize for History and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He writes for the New York Times, TLS, Sunday Times, and The Independent. He lives in London.

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