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Acid: A New Secret History of LSD
by David Black
Publisher:
Vision Paperbacks 
Year:
1998, 2001 
ISBN:
190125030X 
Categories:
Book Reviews
Reviewed by Donut, 5/2/2005

David Black’s ACID: A New Secret History of LSD is another addition to the ranks of titles that attempt to recount the basics of modern psychedelic history. Much like Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain’s Acid Dreams, Black’s book focuses primarily on the role that Global Intelligence Services played in the scientific exploration and eventual illicit distribution of good old LSD-25. It tries to distinguish itself from the other books on the subject by focusing primarily on two things. One is the influence that the psychedelic movement and 1960s and 70s radical politics had on each other. The other is the enigmatic Ronald Hadley Stark (nee Ronald Shitsky,) a shadowy figure who many say was central to the establishment of international underground LSD distribution networks, supposedly played a key role in the Brotherhood of Eternal Love/Operation Julie acid cartels, and just might have been a US Intelligence agent…

Black offers a lot of interesting speculation and fascinating anecdotes over the course of the book’s 200 pages, and improves somewhat on Tendler & May’s earlier The Brotherhood of Eternal Love by at least including a few footnotes. Although his political speculations seem fairly well researched, many of his psychedelic references are secondary & tertiary sources. When I emailed legendary chemist Tim Scully while researching the subject, I was shocked to find out that Black apparently never contacted him while working on the book. Given that it only took me about five minutes to find Scully’s contact information, this alone casts serious doubt upon the thoroughness of Black’s research into the psychedelic side of his subject matter.

Conspiracy buffs & those with an interest in radical politics of the past few decades will likely find Acid: A New Secret History of LSD an interesting read. However, serious students of Psychedelic History are urged to keep one thing in mind. The events covered in this book are shrouded in the fog of so many cover stories from so many of the participants that trying to separate truth and fiction quickly becomes an incredibly frustrating exercise. Many of the participants with whom I have spoken have alluded to the fact that most of the currently available titles on the subject are ridden with inaccuracies and errors, if not outright disinformation. Hopefully as a result of the recent death of ex-CIA director Richard Helms, more of the real truth of the matter will come out in the not-so-distant future. As it stands at present though, if you want to know what really went down during the early days of LSD, in all honesty looking in a book probably isn’t going to help all that much.

Originally Published In : Trip

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