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Reviews by Lux
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Iboga: The Visionary Root of African Shamanism
by Vicent Ravalec, Mellendi, and Agn├Ęs Paicheler
Publisher:
Park Street Press 
Year:
2004 (hardcover), 2007 (paperback) 
Reviewed by Lux
11/20/2008

an uneven book that makes a heroic effort to describe the potent psychedelic entheogen from many points of view. It describes the use of this plant by the Bwiti tradition of West Central Africa from its earliest recorded history in the nineteenth century through the present day. [ read more ]

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The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World's Most Trouble Drug Culture
by Richard DeGrandpre
Publisher:
Duke University Press 
Year:
2006 
Reviewed by Lux
10/27/2008

...how did America’s relationship with psychoactive substances become so troubled? In The Cult of Pharmacology Richard DeGrandpre argues that dominant voices in US culture and science distort our understanding of psychoactive substances through a form of essentialism he calls “pharmacologicalism”, in which drug effects are explained entirely by the physical and chemical properties of the drugs themselves. [ read more ]

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The Cacahuatl Eater: Ruminations of an Unabashed Chocolate Addict
by Jonathan Ott
Publisher:
Natural Products Co 
Year:
1985 
Reviewed by Lux
9/24/2008

The Cacahuatl Eater leaves no stone unturned in telling the story of mighty chocolate. Ott sketches the cultivation of the plant Theobroma cacao from seed to sprout to fruit, then follows the harvested bean all the way through the production process to the dessert plate. He considers the cultural history of cacao, focusing on its use by the Aztecs, who not only drank a frothy, bitter beverage brewed from its beans, but used them as currency as well. [ read more ]

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Focus on Hallucinogens (Drug Alert Series)
by Jeffrey Shulman, Illustrated by David Neuhaus
Publisher:
Twenty First Century Books 
Year:
1990 
Reviewed by Lux
8/22/2008

Focus on Hallucinogens is much better than it could be. While it does not acknowledge that anyone in the modern world could take psychedelics and have a pleasant or useful experience, it is well-researched and it contains some good information. Shulman offers a decent middle school primer to hallucinogens and gives a serviceable overview of the history of their use in traditional cultures. [ read more ]

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Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom
by Andy Lechter
Publisher:
HarperCollins 
Year:
2007 
Reviewed by Lux
6/4/2008

Among books on psychoactive mushrooms, Shroom is unprecedented in the degree to which the author demands that arguments be supported by evidence. No brief review can do justice to the rich detail and close analysis that Letcher offers. This is an essential book on the subject, and an important step forward in the evolution of how we talk about the history of entheogens. [ read more ]

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DMT: The Spirit Molecule
by Rick Strassman, M.D.
Publisher:
Park Street Press 
Year:
2001 
Reviewed by Lux
12/10/2007

... [T]he shadow side of this book’s legacy is that it has helped create a state of confusion among its readership. Strassman’s outstanding work is marred by unsubstantiated speculation regarding possible connections between meditation, death and dying, the pineal gland, endogenous DMT, and quantum mechanics. [ read more ]

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Animals and Psychedelics: The Natural World and the Instinct to Alter Consciousness
by Giorgio Samorini
Publisher:
Park Street Press 
Year:
2002 English-language edition 
Reviewed by Lux
11/1/2007

This book is particularly memorable for its many wonderful accounts of animal intoxication. Despite the title, most of the cases that Samorini recounts do not involve psychedelics, though he does describe some greedy goats refusing to share Psilocybe mushrooms. Like Jonathan Ott in Pharmacophilia, Samorini contends that intoxication is natural. It is an instinctual drive commonly found in many animal species, and not the debased artifact of corrupt human society that it is commonly believed to be. [ read more ]

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
by Hunter S. Thompson
Publisher:
Random House 
Year:
1971 
Reviewed by Lux
10/17/2007

Hunter S. Thompson’s magnum opus records a semi-fictionalized drug-fueled torpedo ride through the incandescent heart of Las Vegas in search of the American Dream. Ablaze with mescaline, LSD, cannabis, ether – hell, you name it – Thompson’s literary alter-ego Raoul Duke wanders under the bright lights of the strip with his attorney Dr. Gonzo. [ read more ]

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Carbon Dioxide Therapy
by Ladislas J. Meduna
Publisher:
Charles Thomas 
Year:
1950 (1st Edition) 
Reviewed by Lux
9/12/2007

Nearly 60 years after it was published, Carbon Dioxide Therapy remains the definitive statement on carbogen as a psychiatric tool for treatment of neurosis. The book’s author administered a blend called “Meduna’s Mixture”, consisting of 30% carbon dioxide and 70% oxygen, to hundreds of patients, and the results of his research are copiously document in this engaging monograph. Exposure to increased levels of carbon dioxide can be dangerous or even be fatal, but Meduna encountered no serious problems in administering his 70/30 blend in sessions of up to 50 breaths in length. [ read more ]

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The Chemistry of Mind-Altering Drugs; History, Pharmacology, and Cultural Context
by Daniel M. Perrine
Publisher:
American Chemical Society 
Year:
1996 
Reviewed by Lux
5/31/2007

Some of the material in this book is irreducibly technical and will be intelligible only to people with backgrounds in chemistry. However, the novice reader can easily skim the brief technical digressions and understand the majority of the book.
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