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Full Review
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Maximizing Harm: Losers and Winners in the Drug War
by Stephen Young
Writer's Showcase Press 
Reviewed by Scotto, 11/15/2005

After spending enough time identifying yourself as a member of the “psychedelic community” at large, you begin to take for granted the fact that the war on drugs is an awful monstrosity. You get used to the numbing barrage of horror stories that seem to pour through news outlets on a regular basis. You nod cynically and get on with your life, moderately secure in the notion that they likely will never catch you specifically, that you specifically will likely never have your house seized or your loved ones gunned down in cold blood, that you specifically will never rot in prison for preposterous amounts of time for having the audacity to enjoy yourself in the privacy of your own home.

Stephen Young’s excellent Maximizing Harm: Losers and Winners in the Drug War is like a big bucket of ice cold water dumped on your naked, sleeping body. It’s a slim work, but that’s because it is impressively concise in the way it catalogues the many abuses perpetrated by the United States government against its own citizenry. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve likely heard most of these facts before (and if you haven’t, literally the last third of the book is references), but having them assembled in such a vicious portrait provides the book with its impact. There’s an undercurrent of self-righteousness in the book’s organization and presentation, but so what? The government has resorted to lying, stealing, cheating, and murdering in order to get its way in this war, and Young refuses to let them get away with it. He provides no particular sense of hope beyond a few meager examples, but that’s not his fault; the situation remains dismal, and is not likely to improve any time soon. Still, if you’ve been looking for ammunition to use against your ignorant, conservative, pig-headed family or coworkers, this book is it.

Originally Published In : Trip


  1. Why do people continue to use the word “conservative” as an insult? I consider myself conservative. Ultra-conservative, actually. But in the true political sense of the word. Not in the religious, neocon, hijacking way it is bandied about these days. A true conservative believes the government should no interfere in our personal freedoms!

    Comment by Larry Adamski — 11/25/2005 @ 3:20 pm

  2. Yes, let’s not resort to namecalling in these reviews – it just serves to weaken the cause of ending or transforming the “war against us”.

    Comment by Tom Carter — 12/27/2005 @ 1:26 pm

  3. I wonder what thought process in Mr. Adamski’s head convinced him that public bookreviews is a great place to swear allegiance to ultra conservatism. The thing is, it’s a great comment if you replace the word conservatism with libertarianism.
    The conservatives that are running this country are the GOP, the creaters of the drug war, the most disaterous and costly interferance in our personal freedoms in American history. “No interference in our personal freedoms” would mean overturning everylaw for crimes that have no victim. More people were arrested last year for marijuana offenses than all violent crime. More than 80% of marijuana arrested were for simple possestion. We could effectively double the effectiveness for free of every police force in the country overnight if we could legalize a drug that is so safe that not a single person in history can point to even one attributable death. (Aspirin 10,000+ deaths per year. Tylenol 20,000+. Nicotine 700,000+) Quite possibly the safest drug in history.. If we legalized all drugs the crime in this country would virtually dissappear overnight. The money generated in tax revenue would easily be enough to pay for national health care for every American plus prison and jail populations would be reduced to less than %30 percent current levels, meaning we would never have to parole some rapist or child molester to make room for mandatory drug sentences..
    So Mr Adamski, holding you to your word that you believe there should be no interference by govrmnt into our personal freedoms, you must therefore logically agree that all drugs should be legalized. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you’re not a conservative.

    Comment by Eli Cates — 12/27/2005 @ 3:33 pm

  4. You are right, Mr. Cates. I would more properly define myself as a libertarian. Part of me wishes that being conservative, and actually wanting the Constitution to mean something, wasn’t always associated with the likes of Nixon and Bush Deuce. I distinctly remember getting into an argument with a history teacher in grade school about right vs. left, conservative vs. liberal, democrat vs. republican, because in my mind, the definitions didn’t match up. Still don’t, I guess.

    Comment by Larry Adamski — 1/23/2006 @ 8:35 am

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