New York Times Bestseller
It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs.Read more...
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New York Times Bestseller
It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.
In Chasing the Scream, Hari reveals his discoveries entirely through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. They range from a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn searching for her mother, to a teenage hit-man in Mexico searching for a way out. It begins with Hari's discovery that at the birth of the drug war, Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the man who launched this crusade--and it ends with the story of a brave doctor who has led his country to decriminalize every drug, from cannabis to crack, with remarkable results.
Chasing the Scream lays bare what we really have been chasing in our century of drug war--in our hunger for drugs, and in our attempt to destroy them. This book will challenge and change how you think about one of the most controversial--and consequential--questions of our time.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-10-20
- Reviewer: Staff
In his first book, journalist Hari takes readers on a historical tour of the devastation wrought by the global war on drugs, beginning at the turn of the 20th century with Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and Arnold Rothstein, the Prohibition-era kingpin of New York. Hari dutifully documents the individual lives encroached on by the war on drugs, from the addicts made into pariahs by the zealousness of Anslinger’s acolytes to the Brooklyn corner boys and Mexican cartels whose violence continues to destroy communities, as well as the doctors ruined by the quixotic struggle to enact meaningful reform and research. Hari’s investigation leads him to research labs conducting experiments that challenge the classic pharmaceutical model of addiction, presenting more complex theories that see addiction as symptomatic of larger sociological and psychological issues and argue that addiction is both less serious and more treatable than the antidrug lobby claims. Eventually coming to the belief that the best strategy is to “legalize drugs stage by stage, and use the money we currently spend on punishing addicts to fund compassionate care instead,” Hari ends his journey in Uruguay, Portugal, and Switzerland, where successful movements to legalize and decriminalize drugs offer hope for the future. Hari has made a stimulating hybrid of a book—simultaneously a readable history of the war on drugs and a powerful case for radical reform. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (Jan.)