Books

The Pursuit of Oblivion

Richard Davenport-Hines

The Pursuit of OblivionFrom the Back Cover

A history of drug-taking, telling the story across five centuries of addicts and users: monarchs, prime ministers, great writers and composers, wounded soldiers, overworked physicians, oppressed housewives, exhausted laborers, high-powered businessmen, playboys, sex workers, pop stars, seedy losers, stressed adolescents, defiant schoolchildren, the victims of the ghetto, and happy young people on a spree.

It is also the history of one bad idea, prohibition.

Plot55 Says

This really is the best social history of drugs I have ever read. The author takes you through the meandering history of drugs from Opium use in the 17th Century to the Crack use of today. He sews the threads of all these histories together into a seamless, seminal, whole. Unusually for a book of this kind, it does not just concentrate on the American history of drugs, but tells the story of worldwide drug histories. Davenport-Hines’s personal analysis of many of the leading players is often sharp and biting. His analyses of what have become urban-myth histories are also faultless. If you want a book on the history of drugs and drug use in the Western World, look no further, and buy this book. Or better still, buy one for yourself and one for me, as I’ve lost mine.

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