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Recent Reviews
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Iboga: The Visionary Root of African Shamanism
by Vicent Ravalec, Mellendi, and Agnès 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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LSD : Still With Us After All These Years
by Leigh Henderson & William Glass (Eds.)
Publisher:
Lexington Books 
Year:
1994 
Reviewed by Neal M. Goldsmith, Ph.D.
10/27/2008

This is a remarkable book. Epidemiologist Leigh A. Henderson, as a consultant to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and NIDA Project Officer William J. Glass started with the government’s own survey data, worked with the authors of a new, individual and community-level ethnographic study, analyzed and interpreted these half-dozen data sets very conservatively, and ended up concluding that LSD is relatively safe and the laws far too severe. Some would say that these conclusions are still too conservative. Perhaps that’s the point: Even a conservative reading of government data will not support today’s absolutist attitudes and draconian laws. [ 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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The Chemical Muse: Drug Use and the Roots of Western Civilization
by D. C. A. Hillman, PhD
Publisher:
Thomas Dunn Books / St Martin's Press 
Year:
2008 
Reviewed by Thomas B. Roberts
9/23/2008

A good accompaniment to Ruck et al’s The Apples of Apollo. Recommended for university, major public libraries, and psychedelia collectors. Too much ancient-history context for my taste, but it may suit the taste of classicists who are willing to accept Hillman’s claim that in ancient Greece and Rome the non-medical uses of psychoactive plants was widespread and widely accepted as a natural part of life. [ 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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Real Drugs in a Virtual World
by Edward Murguía, Melissa Tackett-Gibson, Ann Lessem (Eds.)
Publisher:
Lexington Books 
Year:
2007 
Reviewed by Fire Erowid
8/9/2008

Real Drugs in a Virtual World addresses issues such as how harm reduction websites, including Erowid, affect the use of club drugs, how drug information websites are utilized by drug-using subcultures, how individuals assess the accuracy of online drug information, and the impact of the internet on face-to-face conversations about drug use. [...] This book and a handful of academic papers constitute the breadth of research to date examining this critical issue. We appreciate the authors dipping their toes into this topic and hope that others follow in their footsteps. [ read more ]

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[Vol. 2] Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogenic Substances As Treatments
by Michael J. Winkelman & Thomas B. Roberts (Eds.)
Publisher:
Praeger 
Year:
2007 
Reviewed by Bruce Sewick
7/14/2008

Volume II of Psychedelic Medicine provides an in-depth transpersonal perspective of how psychedelics may facilitate spiritual healing, as well as some of the contraindications to psychedelic use that need to be discussed. [ 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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[Vol. I] Psychedelic Medicine: New Evidence for Hallucinogenic Substances As Treatments
by Michael J. Winkelman & Thomas B. Roberts (Eds.)
Publisher:
Praeger 
Year:
2007 
Reviewed by Bruce Sewick
5/26/2008

This book will go a long way in providing balance in order to critically weigh information both favorable and critical of psychedelic substances. Despite political pressure, psychedelics are here to stay and current research cited supports the premise that there can be medical applications under controlled conditions. Even critics may find it difficult to deny use of these substances to those with psychological diagnoses resistant to treatment (e.g. PTSD) and those who suffer from chronic and intractable disease, such as cancer. Furthermore, the unsuccessful treatment of the social diseases of our times (i.e. addictions) opens the door to such an alternative treatment modality. [ read more ]

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