The Pursuit of Oblivion by Richard Davenport-Hines
A Global History of Narcotics

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A startling account of the history of drug abuse, this book forces us to reconsider many of our views on a controversial issue.

Spanning five centuries and several continents in a sweeping portrait of addiction, The Pursuit of Oblivion traces the history of the use and abuse of narcotics, revealing their subtle transformation from untested medicines to sources of idle pleasure and, relatively recently, to illegal substances. Richard Davenport-Hines, an eminent, prize-winning historian, uncovers the centrality of drug abuse in our modern industrial society, from the drug habits of Charles Dickens and John F. Kennedy to today's $400 billion annual worldwide trade in illicit drugs (the same volume as the oil industry). A vivid portrayal of the people and events that have shaped the history of narcotics, The Pursuit of Oblivion reveals that, contrary to the assumption underlying current drug policies, our need to escape reality and our body's need for physical pleasure are both ineradicable aspects of our humanity, unchangeable by government initiative. 16 pages of b/w illustrations.


About Richard Davenport-Hines

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Richard Davenport-Hines is the recipient of the Wolfson Prize for History and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He writes for the "New York Times, TLS, Sunday Times", and "The Independent". He lives in London.
Published July 30, 2002 by Diane Pub Co. 576 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Punitive treatment of drug users has not been especially effective, he avers, even though prison sentences for using or supplying drugs remain draconian.

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The Guardian

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There is a dimension missing: opium, coca and marijuana are cash crops that offer near-desperate peasants and subsistence farmers in the developing world a very high return on yield per hectare.

Dec 29 2001 | Read Full Review of The Pursuit of Oblivion: A Gl...

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