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Recent Reviews
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The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
by Richard Holmes
Publisher:
Pantheon 
Year:
2008 
Reviewed by Dale Pendell
9/8/2009

It is the second half of both The Age of Wonder and The Atmosphere of Heaven that considerably overlap, centering on the life and career of Humphry Davy and his experiments with nitrous oxide at the Pneumatic Institution in Bristol. Beddoes hired Davy as his assistant physician and researcher at the Institution in 1798. Thus Beddoes becomes the crucial link in a chain that runs, we might say, Priestley → Beddoes → Davy → Faraday → Maxwell → Einstein. [ read more ]

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The Acid
by Sam
Publisher:
Vision 
Year:
2009 
Reviewed by Jonathan Taylor
8/25/2009

The author shares an intensely personal but phenomenological account that wrestles with the scores of important and sometimes contradictory ideas that psychedelics can bring to mind. His experience of “the acid” toys with his concepts of personal and collective identity, shifting their boundaries in unexpected ways, as he undergoes dramatic alterations in consciousness that suggest new borders or horizons of self, other, and world. This is a rich, dense, philosophical, and psychological trip memoir. It may not be playful, but it is deep. [ read more ]

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Inspired Madness: The Gifts of Burning Man
by Dale Pendell
Publisher:
Frog Ltd. / North Atlantic Books 
Year:
2006 
Reviewed by Jon Hanna
8/12/2009

A gem from my favorite poet-author, Inspired Madness: The Gifts of Burning Man by Dale Pendell offers an excellent introduction for the curious virgin, while providing enough insight to stir a longing desire for pilgrimage in the most jaded, dust-encrusted veteran burner. [...] it contains no photographs, but is sprinkled instead with whimsically potent line drawings—art that captures the heart of the event like no other art I have seen. [ read more ]

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Addiction: A Disorder of Choice
by Gene M. Heyman
Publisher:
Harvard University Press 
Year:
2009 
Reviewed by Gary Greenburg
7/28/2009

Drawing from behavioural economics, Heyman shows how the failure to sacrifice short-term gains (getting high) for long-term gains (sobriety-aided productivity) is endemic to a consumer culture, and how important a person’s social context is to reining in the penchant for pleasure. This, he argues, explains the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous: it re-socialises addicts, giving them a reason to make the harder choice. Heyman implies that social institutions, particularly those that can guide by example and incentive rather than by precept, are crucial to preventing and “treating” addiction. [ read more ]

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Widespread Zombification in the 21st Century and the Wars of the Zombie Masters: Drugs: For Kids and the Occasional Interested Parent
by Brian Johnson, MD
Publisher:
Gegensatz Press 
Year:
2009 
Reviewed by Earth Erowid
7/27/2009

Beyond the unsuccessful humorous Zombie premise, factual problems throughout demonstrate a lack of expertise on the topics at hand. While some errors of fact will creep into any work, it seems clear that Johnson did not have a qualified fact-checker edit his writing before publishing it. In addition to errors of fact, what cements this book as unsafe for children is when the author tells some young readers that their parents “don’t really love [them]”. Despite a few positive messages and possibly useful anti-drug content, this book is unsuitable for children until it is re-written. [ read more ]

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Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World's Most Troubled Drug Culture
by Richard DeGrandpre
Publisher:
Duke University Press 
Year:
2006 
Reviewed by S Thyssen
7/10/2009

An examination of America’s legacy of vilifying some substances and deifying others. In an exhaustive series of well-referenced examples, the author updates the concept, discussing recent developments such as congressional hearings on tobacco and the troubling state of the antidepressant industry. He explores how the reputation of a drug, as well as its effects, are often heavily dependent on contextual factors distinct from its pharmacological action. [ read more ]

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On Drugs
by David Lenson
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press 
Year:
1995 
Reviewed by S Thyssen
7/10/2009

Fourteen years after its publication, On Drugs still feels fresh in its call to move beyond divisive posturing and verbal constructions that quell discourse on one of the most significant questions we should be asking: how do drug-taking behaviors reflect and shape personal and societal consciousness? An intellectually invigorating yet down-to-earth pharmacography.
read more ]

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Tastes of Paradise: a Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants
by Wolfgang Schivelbusch
Publisher:
Vintage Books 
Year:
1992 
Reviewed by S Thyssen
7/10/2009

Tastes of Paradise offers refreshingly succinct social analyses of the roles that spices, coffee, tea, chocolate, tobacco, and alcohol have played in Western culture, and complements longer works that cover similar territory, such as Dale Pendell’s Pharmako~ trilogy. [ read more ]

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Back from the Void
by Zoe7
Publisher:
Z Media 
Year:
2005 
Reviewed by David Arnson
7/10/2009

Author Zoe Seven’s magnum opus on contacting spirit forces, conspiracy theories, and working in Brazil with his plant allies, ayahuasca and Salvia divinorum. [ read more ]

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Ayahuasca Religions: A Comprehensive Bibliography & Critical Essays
by Beatriz Caiuby Labate, Isabel Santana de Rose, and Rafael Guimaraes dos Santos [Trans. by Matthew Meyer]
Publisher:
MAPS 
Year:
2009 
Reviewed by Jurriaan Oosterman
6/24/2009

Originally written in Portuguese—the language in which the majority of writings about ayahuasca religions have appeared—the book’s release in an English-language edition offers a reference guide that promises to stimulate further dialogue between people working with ayahuasca in ritual settings, and those from the scientific world. [ read more ]

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