Read Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond by Martin A. Lee Bruce Shlain Online

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Few events have had a more profound impact on the social and cultural upheavals of the Sixties than the psychedelic revolution spawned by the spread of LSD. This book for the first time tells the full and astounding story—part of it hidden till now in secret Government files—of the role the mind-altering drug played in our recent turbulent history and the continuing influeFew events have had a more profound impact on the social and cultural upheavals of the Sixties than the psychedelic revolution spawned by the spread of LSD. This book for the first time tells the full and astounding story—part of it hidden till now in secret Government files—of the role the mind-altering drug played in our recent turbulent history and the continuing influence it has on our time.And what a story it is, beginning with LSD’s discovery in 1943 as the most potent drug known to science until it spilled into public view some twenty years later to set the stage for one of the great ideological wars of the decade. In the intervening years the CIA had launched a massive covert research program in the hope that LSD would serve as an espionage weapon, psychiatric pioneers came to believe that acid would shed light on the perplexing problems of mental illness, and a new generation of writers and artists had given birth to the LSD sub-culture.Acid Dreams is a complete social history of the psychedelic counter-culture that burst into full view in the Sixties. With new information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the authors reveal how the CIA became obsessed with LSD during the Cold War, fearing the Soviets had designs on it as well. What follows is one of the more bizarre episodes in the covert history of U.S. intelligence as the search for a “truth drug” began to resemble a James Bond scenario in which agents spied on drug-addicted prostitutes through two-way mirrors and countless unwitting citizens received acid with sometimes tragic results.The story took a new turn when Captain Al Hubbard, the first of a series of “Johnny Appleseeds” of acid, began to turn on thousands of scientists, businessmen, church figures, policemen, and others from different walks of life.Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters, Allen Ginsberg and the Beat generation, the Diggers and the Age of Golden Anarchy in Haight-Ashbury, William Mellon Hitchcock, Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies, the Beatles—these are just some of a motley cast of characters who stride through the pages of this compelling chronicle. What impact did the widespread use of LSD have on the anti-war movement of the late Sixties? Acid Dreams traces the way the drug intensified each stage of counter-cultural transition to break the “mind-forged manacles” of a new generation in rebellion.In Acid Dreams, Martin Lee and Bruce Shalin have written the history of a time still only dimly understood. The events they recount and the facts they uncover supply an important missing piece of the puzzle of a crucial decade in our recent past.Praise“Engaging throughout. . . . At once entertaining and disturbing.”—Andrew Weil, M.D., The Nation“Marvelously detailed . . . loaded with startling revelations.”—Los Angeles Daily News“Excellent. . . . Captivating. . . . A generalist’s history that should replace all others.”—San Francisco Chronicle“A landmark contribution to the sociopolitical history of the U.S. . . . Some of the liveliest, most absorbing, best-documented historical analyses to appear in recent years. . . . A seminal contribution to understanding America’s most turbulent modern decade.”—Choice“This funny and irreverent book brings it all back.”—The Washington Post“Recounts some of the most bizarre incidents in the history of U.S. intelligence.”—The Boston Globe“A monumental social history of psychedelia....

Title : Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond
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ISBN : 19308319
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Number of Pages : 386 Pages
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Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond Reviews

  • Adam
    2019-03-14 10:30

    The "cultural history" stuff, as several critics have pointed out, is not anywhere near as compelling as the info gathered from declassified CIA files, which all sounds like the invention of some rambling ancient hippie rotting in an incense store somewhere, but, you know, isn't. Takeaways: Humans are really weird ape-things and it's hard to believe the world isn't much, much worse off than it isTimothy Leary was a complete jackass who ruined everything for everyoneLSD is not a magic molecule that will save everyone and turn them into peaceful, caring, loving individuals who will forever maintain peace on EarthLSD is a remarkable molecule with a huge number of possible benefits and a very, very high safety profile in comparison to just about every drug your doctor can prescribe you (fun fact: I get prescribed amphetamines, which, along with heroin, played a role in absolutely decimating the hippie movement, especially the Haight-Ashbury scene, bringing it to an early end, and is correlated with the increase in violence in New Left circles and a massive increase in crime in the Haight; fun fact: children get prescribed amphetamines; fun fact: doctors hand out opiates (no better/worse than heroin) like candy, fun fact: doctors hand out benzos like candy; fun fact: fun fact: alcoholics and other addicts do not have access to LSD, which has been shown over and over again to aid tremendously in treating addiction; fun fact: alcohol, which is a few hundred times more addictive and destructive than LSD [but still something we can consume with regularity without hugely negative results (!!!!)], which is known to be capable of causing cancer in just about every tissue in the human body, is easily bought, even in the form of pure fucking ethanol)the US government's drug policy is insane and has no sound basis in realitythe cultural narrative surrounding psychedelic drug use is bullshit in its purest formthe CIA was and probably still is up to really, really weird shit. There is a distinction between unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and reasonable thoughts about the kinds of conspiracies that take place every day at the highest government levels. The CIA, factually, experimented with LSD (and around LSD) to highly nefarious ends and in highly nefarious ways. The CIA was involved in the hippie movement in sometimes shocking waysThe CIA is more stupid and reckless than it is evilI was born waaaayyyy too late__________________________________________________________________I suppose the idea is to offer a "complete" account of LSD, in some sense, which makes the book feel disjointed, sometimes. But the book as a whole is immensely valuable and should give everyone who reads it pause before perpetuating outright lies and obscene falsehoods, from either perspective ("the government tells us the truth and LSD is evil and addictive and makes you go crazy and the CIA does important stuff to protect the good guys from the bad guys and doesn't use regular folk as guinea pigs and participate in drug trafficking and criminalize drugs to quell cultural rebellion and the government doesn't deliberately prevent therapeutic use of wondrous molecules that people don't get addicted to and don't have to use every day &c. &c." OR "heeyyy, mannn: acid is the truth, maannn").There's some weird stuff in the reviews here about the "bias" of the writers. If understanding that LSD isn't Satan in his purest form counts as bias, then sure. If pointing out that LSD has enormous therapeutic potential and played an important role in a huge cultural shift, sure. But the writers go to great lengths, perhaps too great, to point out the not-so-great stuff that surrounded LSD use. LSD, the thesis goes, is a chemical molecule. Its moral value, in itself, is neutral. That is the very definition of an unbiased perspective. I would like to see an updated version of this book/another book that covers the LSD boom in the 90s, the Pickard arrest and subsequent crash, etc.

  • Adam
    2019-03-03 10:32

    I got this as a gift from someone whose taste I trust implicitly, so read it despite not having had much interest in LSD since high school (when, frankly, I had a fairly serious and highly personal interest in the compound). It's a beautifully written account of the role LSD played in the social and psychological upheavals of the '60s. The early chapters on the CIA's early experiments with acid as a mind-control tool are especially interesting. The authors' historical research chops are impressive, but their attempts to be objective about LSD are shaky at best. They're clearly in the pro-acid, anti-establishment camp, and their hippie advocacy puts something of a damper on an otherwise great investigation of the heretofore underexamined link between this particular drug and the politics of liberation.On the whole, a very good read. Certainly recommended for anyone who cares about LSD in anything more than a casual way (which set, for better or worse, does not include me).

  • Rebecca McNutt
    2019-03-08 15:23

    This book was really nostalgic and interesting to read, and a worthwhile piece of history in the hippie counterculture of the late 1960's. Acid Dreams is well-written, detailed, illustrated and even includes hippie trivia (I'm not a hippie but it was interesting to read).

  • M.L. Rio
    2019-02-26 16:26

    The history of LSD is about as wild as you'd expect, ranging from the first CIA-spearheaded acid tests of the 1950s to the violent radicalism of the mysterious Weathermen fifteen years later to the quiet bust of enigmatic international kingpin Ronald Stark in the 1980s. This book itself is a trip (though admittedly a bit outdated now), examining--as the subtitle promises--not only LSD the drug but also LSD the culture, LSD the movement, LSD the menace. It's a surprisingly lucid narrative and while it's not entirely objective (it's impossible not to detect a wistful fondness for old Lucy in the Sky in Lee and Shlain's rhetoric) it's commendably comprehensive. So if you have a hankering for some psychedelic non-fiction, tune in, turn on, and drop by the bookstore.

  • Paige
    2019-03-22 14:19

    This book was somewhat interesting but didn’t really live up to its subtitle—“The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond.” It conveys something…ambitious. And I think that maybe that is this book’s problem—in the end, it just tries to cover too much ground.I felt like the book was way too focused on Tim Leary, and the problem is that he’s just not that interesting of a guy. Or if he is, this book didn’t do much to get that across. For all the ink spilled about him here, I didn’t even really come away with an idea of what he’s actually like, or even a biographical sketch—just some in depth information about a few episodes in his life which I found, frankly, boring. Okay, so he got a new girlfriend and drove around Europe. And…? What’s this got to do with LSD, the CIA, or the sixties?I think I was just expecting too much. Most of the information was not revelatory to me, and what’s more, the writing style did not really appeal to me. It would have been fine if the authors had been talking about things I cared about more, or found more relevant to their subtitle and premise, but as it was…not so much. They did touch on some important things, though, like how the CIA smuggled heroin inside corpses of dead soldiers coming back from Vietnam, and the class politics of LSD usage.Also, the authors talk around the sexism and homophobia in the drug subculture but never call it that. They quote Leary as saying that “LSD is a cure to homosexuality,” while never pointing out that, um, homosexuality doesn’t need to be “cured.” The authors write, “a man with bisexual proclivities, Stark used drugs and sex to manipulate people,” as if oh yeah, being bisexual obviously goes hand in hand with manipulating people with drugs and sex! They relate stories of people spiking drinks with LSD and never say that it was problematic or really frown on it, despite the fact that was totally non-consensual and kind of a messed up thing to do. It’s all “oh haha so funny wasn’t that great” instead of like, wow, some people might not have appreciated that and everyone should decide for themselves whether they want to do drugs or not. The authors quote people saying things like “fuck your woman until she can’t stand up…total freedom for everyone!” (except for the woman who may or may not have agreed to that treatment, I guess) and that one of the “three inevitable goals” of an LSD trip is “making love to a woman.” Oh right then. What if you’re a woman, like half the population? Does it also involve making love to a woman—isn’t that homosexuality, something that needs to be cured?! I mean this kind of talk is completely unsurprising and par for the course for the 1960s, but I would have hoped that from this vantage point the authors could have at least paid lip service to how these points of view are sexist, making women objects instead of agents. Then again the authors are two straight old white dudes whose “politics” are probably of the “turn out, tune in, drop out” variety… still, disappointing.Ultimately I feel like this is an interesting subject but we only got glimpses of that in this book. It wasn’t not horrible but I feel fairly confident that there are better books on this subject out there.

  • Alicedewonder
    2019-03-23 13:19

    These gentlemen did their homework and I am proud to have not only read their research but purchased new copies of their book more than 20x to send out to those who were led to believe the media lies of the 60s. Their documentation is perfect and succinct.The 60s movement could have worked. I know this because I have implemented it often on small scale settings; frightening the knickers off of those in charge. Now the methods remain as my legacy in 4 novels to build a more perfect union. Good luck! Hear the Calliope: A sentimental journey on the EarthRide (Vol 1) The 60s Indian style http://newbookjournal.com/2011/07/hea... Legacy: Let the games begin (Vol 2) Haudenosaunee overthrow http://newbookjournal.com/2011/07/leg...Reason Void of Reason: Spirituality honeymoon style (Vol 3) Iroquois erotica http://newbookjournal.com/2011/07/rea...BREATHE:NOUMENON (Vol 4) REVENGE; the only satisfying song http://newbookjournal.com/2011/07/bre...

  • Michael Burnam-Fink
    2019-03-04 11:13

    The subtitle of this book says "The complete social history of LSD: the CIA, the sixties, and beyond." In a nutshell, this is an entirely accurate summary. Lee and Shlain trace the strange journey of LSD from an experimental military chemical, to a psychiatric wonderdrug, to a driving forces of the 60s counter-culture, and possibly its demise. This book is more journalistic than academic, but it is deeply sourced and informed. The authors are pro-psychedelic but fully recognize the limits of chemical enlightenment, and how the flashbulb cosmic glow of LSD inspired a revolution that blossomed in the headlines but failed to hold the streets. The 60s were a trip, but all trips end. Especially those helped along by agent provocateurs of the CIA and FBI.At least we can still dream of better world, some times.

  • MsPink
    2019-03-08 16:18

    A fascinating history of one of the most powerful chemicals ever synthesized, the government agencies that tried unsuccessfully to turn it into a weapon and then, even less successfully, to contain it after the proverbial genie was out of the bottle. Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Albert Hoffman and Aldous Huxley and several other well-known characters whose lives were inextricably linked to the story of LSD, make their expected appearances, some more fleshed out than others. We are also introduced to some less-infamous characters whose lives would make epic bio-pics all their own (none more so than the larger-than-life Captain Al Hubbard). Anyone who's not already familiar with the CIA's use of LSD and other drugs in their quest to find the ultimate chemical weapon (before the Soviets could beat them to it), and the involvement of the military, might be shocked to read about MK-ULTRA, in which unwitting US and Canadian citizens--including college students, hospital patients, prison inmates, soldiers, the homeless and the mentally ill--were subjected, mostly without their knowledge or consent, to an absolutely horrifying array of psychological tortures involving LSD, BZ and a long list of other hallucinogenic and "psychomimetic" (madness-mimicking) drugs. This book was originally published in 1986, so although it's been re-released, it unfortunately doesn't cover the "psychedelic renaissance" of the 1990s, Terence McKenna or more recently, any of the promising research being conducted with LSD and other psychedelics (see the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), et al).

  • Erik Graff
    2019-02-27 16:36

    I recall first reading about this book in an advertisement in the then-weekly, now-defunct Guardian weekly out of New York City. I was greatly intrigued and resolved to keep an eye open for it. Years later I actually found the book and snapped it up, reading it almost immediately. I was not disappointed. Indeed, I was impressed by both the quality of the writing and by the material covered.This is, generally speaking, a social history of the influence of psychotropics such as LSD on Western culture, particularly on American culture. Much of the most important--and disturbing--material, however, concerns the involvement of the CIA and its many subsidiary "cover" organizations in the investigation and utilization of such drugs both on its own people, often without consent, and on, as they say, "unwitting civilians". The hope was part of a greater effort to find chemical means to facilitate brainwashing and interrogations--and later, at least to discombobulate foes. Much of the most entertaining material concerns the (probably?) unintended consequences of the drugs escaping into the broader culture.

  • Anna
    2019-03-23 11:17

    I'm one of those weirdos who does not find the prospect of doing LSD or other drugs in a recreational fashion interesting at all. It was with a lot of surprise that I found that I enjoyed this book! It is impeccably researched, well-written, and, in parts, terrifying (particularly in the early chapters, which cover the CIA's quest to find a "truth serum" and its efforts to that end, including MK-ULTRA). Anyone who is interested in the 1960s (warts and all), the less-savory aspects of government research (as I am), or the social aspects of drug use should give this fast-paced narrative a try.

  • Samantha Kernc
    2019-03-24 12:42

    Breif: This was a mind clenching book for it was mostly about conspiracys done by the CIA in the United States of America to find a truth Serium. Eventually, the truth serium, was found to be L.S.D. and it spreed to all forms of American culture. It also talked about the Nazi Scientist who worked on American Soldiers to find this serium. It was interesting to read, and really makes you question what is going on in the world today. This is why I really enjoyed this book.Samantha KerncSeptember 23, 2008Lit- to- WorldLiterary AnalysesAcid Dreams Throughout the ages US intelligence has fought in many wars. During the 1940’s and into the 1960’s they were heavily involved in the Cold War trying to undermind the Soviet Union and Cuba as well as communism in various places around the world. This is where my mind journey begins. This is a story that opened my eyes to what our government is really like, and not all the false propaganda that is proposed on television, on the radio, and in the everyday talk of other Americans. I was very surprised to find out that my America that I have envisioned was so pure and full of justice is so condescending or hypocritical. The CIA was one of America’s top intelligence groups and still is today. Today there is a war going on. This is the war against Terrorist Groups under the leadership of Al Quida networks. These Terrorist Groups are found in Afghanistan, and Iraq. Isn’t there some suspicious between the misleading truths of yesteryear and today? Our national intelligence went into Iraq after proposing that weapons of mass-destruction were threatening the United States. These weapons of mass-destruction led us to the War on Terror. When we shipped our sons and daughters of America off to Iraq we learned that there are not these so called weapons of mass-destruction that the US was telling us about. So what did our country do after we found no weapons? Our country decided, well, we should stay there to help the people over come their leader. The United States of America said that we need to take down and overthrow this malicious tyrant because of all the horrid atrocities that he had done to his own people. Case in point, that Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein both used their own people to test bullet, bombs, drugs, and other war crimes. We had to save them and force the people to become just like us and be completely Americanized. What I learned in the book “Acid Dreams” was that we truly are no different than the countries that we say we’re trying to save. In our CIA, which John F. Kennedy tried to dismantle, we hired known Nazi war criminals. There were 600 hired Nazi scientists that were pardoned for all their war crimes while residing at concentration camps, but not only were they pardoned they received a high government status, a highly paid jobs, and a lifelong pension for the rest of their life and their families. While these Nazi scientists were still in Germany at Dachau concentration camp they would experiment with the human capacity for how long people could survive in different conditions using; weather aliments, bombs, gas, bullets, starvation, thirst, labor, mental abilities, and the list goes on and on. Our top Nazi scientists were: Dr. Hubertus Strughold, Dr. Sigmund Ruff, and Dr. Sigmund Rascher. It was known that Dr. Hubertus Strughold injected gasoline into inmates at Dachau concentration camp, and would either have them shot with a bullet so they could burn to death or crush them to death and then burn the bodies later. We let these scientists conduct experiments on our US Navy and Infantry during Operation Bluebird, Operation Artichoke and many others. On our soldiers they tried to find a “Truth Drug” or TD which was the billion dollar mission of the OSS “Office of Strategic Services.” This TD was supposed to be a speech inducing agent that was colorless, tasteless, and odorless so it could be administered in food or drink. They tried many substances: morphine, ether, Benzeclrine, ethyl alcohol, mescaline, marijuana, etc. The one that fit with their best option was Lysergic acid diethylaminde or LSD-25. It was delivered to the hands of the CIA by Dr. Werner Stoll who invented it using the ergot wheat fungus. It had all that they had wanted in a drug. At first, it had been used to induce speech and was given to foreign spies from whom we wanted information. It turned out to be not that affective since some of the spy’s figured out that they had been drugged. Then our government tried to use a stronger dose on our own spies, so if they were on a dangerous mission they could take the pill and would only speak gibberish while being questioned. When the drug was used in the battlefields of Vietnam it proved ineffective. They found more of the solders were being sent home from insanity than they were from being shot in battle. When LSD-25 was introduced in Vietnam it switched over to the popular culture of the American public and spread like wildfire. This was almost the overturn of our nation when the counter culture took over. When LSD spread to the Soviet Union the author thought it was a contributing factor in the break up of the Soviet Union.I found the facts presented in this book, “Acid Dreams,” were rather disturbing. It destroyed my optimistic connotations of America and it’s representation of righteousness. I would have never believed that someone would have hired Nazi scientists who had committed so many atrocities. I will always be left this question, why is it that in all of our history books do we only hear of the one side about all the Nazi’s who were committed for war crimes, and not about all the rest who were not punished?

  • Bryan Winchell
    2019-03-10 16:22

    This is probably still my all-time favorite non-fiction book. It is certainly the book that had the biggest influence on my view of the world at the time in my life (early 20s) when I read it.I even remember buying it in West LA and starting it and feeling ticked at my friends for insisting I go out with them to see a terrible movie ("Boxing Helena") instead of staying home and reading it. This book reads like the best sort of spy novel, but with the added bonus that the stuff in it, crazy as it is, mind-bending as it is, is TRUE. If you have any sort of faith in the general decency of governments, this is the sort of book that will puncture a big hole in that faith.In short, the book details the massive role LSD played in the 1950s and 1960s. It mostly takes place in the U.S. The story we Gen Xers learned in the 1980s is mostly focused on the social revolution of the in-living-color 1960s, where LSD played a role in making young people grow their hair long, protest against the government with regard to the Vietnam War, Civl Rights, explore Eastern forms of spirituality and practice what they euphemistically dubbed "free love." Of course, growing up in the Reagan 1980s, we were subject more to the downside than the upside of all of this, so hearing LSD as a teenager instantly put thoughts of losing one's mind and jumping off a building thinking one could fly, or of running off and joining a cult of killers led by a madman like Charles Manson.But this book sets the record straight and what was most fascinating was learning about its history before it was made illegal in the 1966, about how the governments of the world in the post-World War II era were seeking truth serums for espionage purposes and how LSD was one of the drugs they investigated. This all ties into how the culture of that time was technology-obsessed, believing that we would come to have "better living through chemistry" as the popular t-shirt said in the 1960s, and how both the government, with their search for truth serums, and the youth, with their search for personal expression and discovery, both bought into that.Ultimately, this is truly a classic of non-fiction reporting that doesn't get the credit it deserves. While Tom Wolfe's "Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" is a wonderful ride and a great example of the New Journalism of the 1960s, it is a tightly focused ride, looking mostly at the US West Coast psychedelic scene, and in particular, Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters. This book has a broader focus, though still seems (if memory serves) to focus mostly on US history. Still, if you are at all interested in post-war America, an era that greatly shaped the world we live in today, and if you are interested in psychedelic history, this is a MUST read.

  • Zack
    2019-03-07 11:12

    http://www.examiner.com/review/acid-d... This is an impressive and scholarly-researched documentation of the CIA's intimate involvement with the psychoactive drug LSD-25 in the attempt to develop a compound that would prevent anyone being interrogated from keeping secrets. Generally speaking, when this organization is referenced in a work of nonfiction, there are a few inconsistencies. For instance, I've heard Albert Hoffman, the "discoverer" of LSD was an agent, but this book doesn't mention it. I've heard the same about Timothy Leary, but that's not mentioned either. I'm not saying I know what's what, just that the waters are muddied as far as who is and isn't an agent, and just how far CIA influence went in the promotion of the acid craze that started in the sixties. According to this book, the peace and love fest in popular culture of the 1960s, which began about ten years after the spooks began to push the drug and conduct experiments on unwitting citizens using acid, overcame and superceded their own spooky interpretation of the substance as an anxiety-producing agent and recast it as the doorway to Nirvana, which qualities it then assumed and lived up to perfectly in the minds of most takers. In this way LSD is the drug most perfectly representative of the notion that reality is a hologram and it's all about angles, what happens to you and what you see. My own acid years are long past, but it still freaks me out to think of all the trips I took never knowing the CIA had a hand in any of it, that Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg, the Beatles and all the other countercultural action heroes got their drugs second- or third-hand from the secret government, knowingly or otherwise.

  • Bill Wallace
    2019-03-08 09:22

    Not exactly the book I was looking for but quite illuminating. I want to read a good history of the early years of Projects Artichoke and MKUltra but I'm realizing that the source material for such a book probably doesn't exist. This book has a little bit of that history but most of its length is an account of the LSD culture of the 1960s...a story told better in Storming Heaven, by Jay Stevens. The other chapters, the ones that dance away from the same old groovy times to circle back into the realm of spooks and psychedelic agents provocateur are riveting.A few individuals emerge from the pages here as subjects that that bear further investigation, if only in the shadowy corners of the internet. Acid-guru John Starr Cooke. the first person to go clear in the young church of Scientology and who owned a tarot deck annotated by Aleister Crowley, looks like one of those weird linchpin cultural figures whose life bridged many strange paths, espionage, old-time occultism, and psychedelics. Conman/mega-LSD dealer/CIA agent Ronald Hadley Stark is one of the strangest characters I've encountered outside of comic books. Someone should definitely write his biography.Mostly, I found this book a good account of another era in the ongoing flight from reason, a chronicle of the creation of a new reality, whether one built on chemicals or designed by deliberate, sometimes clumsy manipulation of a generation. Of course, it also begs the question of what manipulations are still being practiced today.

  • James Stroll
    2019-03-27 14:25

    Although this is called a " social history of LSD" it might be more correctly considered a socio-political history;it contains quite a bit of information on CIA/Military testing of LSD,as well as the various financial and legal ramifications that the distribution of the drug inevitably created. This book, along with "Storming Heaven" by Jay Stevens, are the best general histories of LSD. One might consider reading at least one of these before one reads accounts which focus on certain people or groups, such as "The Harvard Psychedelic Club, or "Orange Sunshine". Both are quite good, and compliment one another. If you prefer a social/political perspective, you will probably prefer "Acid Dreams"; "Storming Heaven" has a more social/spiritual point of view. Acid Dreams has more social commentary from the authors, while Jay Stevens prefers to tell the story with minimal personal bias. Both seem to assume that the LSD experience, and maybe all spirituality, should be judged on the basis of its "social utility" or usefulness; neither considers the possibility that such "spirituality" might be valuable in and of itself.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    2019-02-26 12:23

    A strange story of a laboratory chemical which was thought to be a truth serum by the CIA, a nonlethal weapon of war by the army, a psychological simulation of psychosis by the psychiatric community. The people who had cosmic visions of ecstasy on LSD saw it as a potential liberator of consciousness. Many people who had peak experiences with the transcendent realm felt this is something that they had to give to humankind. Many were on a mission some felt themselves an elite vanguard of a new age. This often could degenerate into creepy cult-like behavior. Some like the pranksters with a more artistic than messianic vision saw it as a way to create artistic happenings and push the envelope of culture. They formed the core of the counterculture that at the time seemed so appealing to so many that it quickly mushroomed in places like San Francisco. It grew to fast and caused a lot of trouble until it finally imploded at the end of the sixties but not before it altered American culture for good. This book covers that sweep of cultural change brought about by a synthetic molecule.

  • Caio
    2019-03-04 14:33

    The history of LSD is full of fascinating characters and episodes, and this book covers it very well. It gives an accessible, comprehensive and well-researched overview of the culture surrounding acid from its discovery and early studies in the 1950s to the psychedelic revolution of the 1960s. It's an enlightening read, and a very fun one – Tim Leary's life, for instance, is much more interesting than I'd have thought. It's just a shame that the book is nearly thirty years old, and thus does not cover recent developments in drug culture.

  • Brendan
    2019-03-04 14:31

    this book is a fantastic introduction to the history of lsd, from its invention by albert hoffman through the early '70s. with a focus more on its social use, from c.i.a. testing through the acid tests, and very little attention paid to the effects/benefits of the drug, this reads much more like a great story than a scientific study. there are much more detailed accounts of lsd/hallucinogens out there, but that doesn't stop this one from being great.

  • Tom Lowe
    2019-02-26 13:21

    A real eye-opener. I sometimes judge a book on how much it teaches and informs, and this is one of the best. Because of this book, I'm now much more tuned-in about the drug culture and the convoluted history that surrounds it. If you wish to better understand the spirit and soul of the 1960's, read this book!

  • Jeremy
    2019-03-17 13:40

    Great- objective history of LSD and its effect on society from the 40s-70s

  • Daniel
    2019-03-23 15:35

    Much like the drug of its subject matter, this book will take you to heights of glory, depths of horror, and everything in between. Its story is both mirthful and harrowing, so richly complex that it must be examined from every conceivable angle to reach any real understanding of it. Martin A. Lee does this expertly, integrating countless first- and second-hand sources, following every philosophical suggestion with its logical counterpoint. More often than not the only conclusions reached are that there are no definite conclusions. For every landmark of beauty and optimism we also find tumultuous follies and at times acts of unadulterated evil. Certainly the counterculture's underestimation of the forces of evil was one factor in the tangled web of causes and effects which led to its demise. This chronicle addresses these concepts and numerous others, beginning with the prehistory of the acid movement and proceeding to its collapse and aftermath. Careful attention is paid to all the interrelated ideas and twists of fate at work. Even though the reader will likely come away with as many questions as answers, there is much to be learned from it all. This seems especially true in the current social climate which finds many parallels to that of the 60s: mass political unrest, high racial tensions, changes in sexual politics, the looming threat of nuclear annihilation, and prolific drug use among the youth, who are as alienated from the status quo as ever. The unity around utopian ideals and a single psychoactive substance is missing, but we may be in the midst of another psychedelic revolution of sorts, exemplified by the rapidly accelerating legalization of marijuana. It's a radically different world now of course, and being able to look at the story of the 60s within its greater historical context has inestimable value. If there is one explicit lesson to take away from it all, I would have to emphasize the importance of moderation, of time "away from the microscope" to contemplate the larger scheme. A widespread disregard for such things manifested startling similarities, often with regrettable outcomes, in even the most disparate factions on any side of the debate. All things must move in equal measures, it seems. The story of LSD is as beautiful as it is tragic, not only hugely consequential but a truly gripping narrative. It should be required reading for anyone with an interest in psychedelics, and even those without particular interest will come away with a wealth of food for thought.Note: As a general rule I don't award anything 5/5 until I've had some time to think about it and possibly read a second time. As it is I've just finished this book, but when the time comes to bump up some new 5s, this will be a prime contender.

  • Teo 2050
    2019-03-19 12:12

    <7.5h @ 2x. This was a much more interesting history than I first expected. I welcome all suggestions on further reading (or documentaries) to learn more about this period; it seems that the invention & spreading of LSD had a huge impact on (at least) the Western world, and it's fascinating to try to trace how attitudes toward it have changed over time. This book was of course originally published in the 1980s, so it's probably not the first source to learn about the role of LSD in last 30 years. But I had no idea the beginnings were so wild & full of wacky ideas even from the CIA's side.Contents:(view spoiler)[Lee MA (1985) (14:44) Acid Dreams - The Complete Social History of LSD - the CIA, the Sixties, and BeyondAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Whose Worlds Are These? (by Andrei Codrescu)ProloguePart I: The Roots of Psychedelia01. In the Beginning There Was Madness . . .– The Truth Seekers– Enter LSD– Laboratories of the State– Midnight Climax– The Hallucination Battlefield02. Psychedelic Pioneers– The Original Captain Trips– Healing Acid– Psychosis or Gnosis?03. Under the Mushroom, Over the Rainbow– Manna from Harvard– Chemical Crusaders– The Crackdown04. Preaching LSD– High Surrealism– The Psychedelic Manual– The Hard Sell05. The All-American Trip– The Great Freak Forward– Acid and the New LeftPart II: Acid for the Masses06. From Hip to Hippie– Before the Deluge– Politics of the Bummer– The First Human Be-In07. The Capital of Forever– Stone Free– The Great Summer Dropout08. Peaking in Babylon– A Gathering Storm– Magical Politics– Gotta Revolution09. Season of the Witch– Armed Love– The Acid Brotherhood– Bad Moon Rising10. What a Field Day for the Heat– Prisoner of LSD– A Bitter Pill– The Great LSD ConspiracyPostscript: Acid and AfterAfterwordReferencesBibliographyIndex (hide spoiler)]

  • Ronja
    2019-03-05 10:38

    As a note to myself, why only 3/5: the title is promising but didn’t match the content so well. There’s also too much emphasis on stories of individual people, I got lost in details. To be honest, some parts I listened only with half an ear. Just couldn’t focus on the names, faces, hair and places all the time. On the other hand, it might tell more about me as a reader than about the quality of the book. I’m more familiar with books with theoretical frames on the background. So, not for my taste. But still, I would recommend this for those interested in psychedelic culture and social movements on the sixties. For those who specificly enjoyed to learn about the crucial characters such as Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, I’d recommend “The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America” by Don Lattin.

  • Corby Plumb
    2019-03-23 09:39

    The first half of the book on LSD pre-1967 was super interesting in chronicaling the drug's history and the different characters who came across it from the Swiss chemist's first trip on a bicycle ride, to Aldous Huxleys dying command, to the shadowy experiments of the CIA. Post 67 is a lot of history and info I already was aware of, well written but not too interesting to me. A great book for those interested in Psychedelics.

  • taeli
    2019-02-24 16:27

    read 10/30/17

  • Margot
    2019-03-20 17:37

    A bit of a love letter to LSD, with much more flippant vocabulary choices than I would have expected from a journalistic expose (feels a bit like the authors are trying to prove their street cred: hey guys! we took LSD! we lived through this too! we're authentic!). Includes such public interest topics such as the CIA bringing Nazi war criminal scientists over to the USA to help conduct medical testing on civilians. Paranoid addicts were right all along!The sections on CIA interrogation drugs and Bob Dylan's discography run a little long and off-topic, but overall this title is chock-full of fun facts to wow your friends at any conspiracy theory party!Lots of quotables:"The search for an effective interrogation technique eventually led to heroin. Not the heroin that ex-Nazi pilots under CIA contract smuggled out of the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia on CIA proprietary airlines during the late 1940s and early 1950s; nor the heroin that was pumped into America's black and brown ghettos after passing through contraband networks controlled by mobsters who moonlighted as CIA hitmen." (12)"Initially the leaders of MK-ULTRA restricted the surprise acid tests to TSS members, but when this phase had run its course they started dosing other Agency personnel who had never tripped before. Nearly everyone was fair game, and surprise acid trips became something of an occupational hazard among CIA operatives." (29)"By the mid-1960s nearly fifteen hundred military personnel had served as guinea pigs in LSD experiments conducted by the US Army Chemical Corps." (40)"The lyrics are appropriately vague; the Tambourine Man may be the pusher, the drug, or the experience itself. But the ambience of the work is unmistakably that of early down, the hour of the wolf, when all hangs in an eerie balance, as at the end of a long and difficult LSD trip." (136)"Historically in the United States repressive controls have been targeted at drugs identified with the poor, the underprivileged, and racial minorities...During the 1960s psychedelic drugs became associated with cultural and political rebellion...By invoking the specter of hallucinogenic drugs, conservative politicians implicitly attacked the groups that opposed the war in Vietnam. Certainly it was a lot easier to discredit the radical cause if the rest of society could be convinced that those uppity radicals were out of their minds--and the LSD craze was touted as sure proof of that." (154)"Veteran political organizers, however, were not about to ignore the hippie phenomenon. They saw masses of youth all across the country getting off on this vague peace-and-love kick, and they made efforts to lure them into the political camp." (165)"The sensational press coverage was tantamount to a full-scale advertising campaign--albeit of a twisted sort--and the neighborhood became a magnet for people who were into just what the media reported: sex, drugs, dirt, weirdness, all the seamiest aspects of the hippie trip." (175)"If the 'real war' is strictly an internal affair and each person is responsible for creating the conditions of his own suffering by projecting his skewed egotistical version of reality onto the material plane, does it not follow that the desire to redress social ills is yet another delusion? In this 'ultimate' scheme of things all sense of moral obligation and political commitment is rendered absurd by definition." (184)"It was a typical sixties scene: a group of scruffy, long-haired students stood in a circle passing joints and hash pipes...But these students were actually FBI agents, and the school they attended was known as 'Hoover University'...this elite academy specialized in training G-men to penetrate left-wing organizations. To cultivate the proper counterculture image, they were told not to wash or bathe for several days before infiltrating a group of radicals." (223)"Rock and roll was a victim of its own success, and the new music, despite its frequent anti-authoritarian overtones, was easily coopted by the corporate establishment...The capacity to absorb its critics is among the chief characteristics of American capitalism, and one of the keys to its enduring hegemony. Although they begin by posing a symbolic challenge to the status quo, rebellious styles invariably wind up creating new conventions and new options for industry." (254)"At one point Leary was asked to take a commonly used prison personality test that he had helped to develop many years earlier while serving as a research psychologist at the Kaiser Foundation in Oakland. His answers were purposely calculated to make him appear normal, docile, and conforming." (260)

  • Paulina Knoblock
    2019-03-06 11:29

    Great overview of acid in a historical sense. Doesn't explicitly pick sides in the battle for control over the chemical so that the reader can evaluate the differences between the government, medical and psychiatric establishment, west coast vs. east coast trippers, artists, and the general public for herself or himself. Everything is shown to have complexity: Leary ascended but later fell from grace, the CIA tried but didn't achieve all its goals, professionals didn't and don't agree on the therapeutic usefulness of the drug, the counterculture swelled and receded.

  • k.wing
    2019-03-09 12:41

    Wow. This book blew my mind, and I'm not saying that ironically. ;)Because I was born in the 80's, the only things I heard about the 60's were: drugs, hippies, bad. Sure, I knew from some of my history classes there were protests, the Vietnam war, rock and roll music (which I also favored in high school and still do to this day). But how those were all connected and their intricate history, I had no idea. I had no idea, for example, that some of the first people to get their hands on the newest drug, LSD-25 was our very own CIA. They'd dose each other, often without telling the person whom they were dosing, then they made their own experiments where they dosed unknowing members of the public. They'd also run above-board experiments on members of the community who were poor and needed the money (read: homeless and/or black). People from the public who took LSD in the beginning were social scientists and professors, who all had transformative experiences and became the drug's champions. LSD was everywhere in the 60's, many people having similar transformative experiences which included self-realizations and realizations about society. And they decided to act on these realizations, calling for revolution, and an overhaul of the corrupt government. They called for equality. They called for a system that was not capitalism. They wanted a life that didn't revolve around consumerism. My mind is still reeling from all the information I learned from this book. What I can say without a doubt is that LSD, and the 60's for that matter, are not at all what I thought they were. Just learning more about it made clear, very early on while reading, that my immediate bias against drugs required a re-education.

  • Jeff Francis
    2019-03-01 14:13

    Which of these two facts do you find more interesting? A) The CIA tried to develop LSD as a truth serum and possible weapon, experimenting with the drug on themselves, prisoners, “volunteers,” and eventually paying junkie prostitutes to lure men from San Francisco bars to a brothel that was actually a CIA lab, where the unsuspecting men would be dosed with LSD and secretly observed.B) LSD played a major role in the rebellious youth culture of the ‘60s.If you chose the first option, you’ll likely be frustrated by the front-loaded structure of “Acid Dreams,” an otherwise well-written and interesting work. The authors choose to tell the story of LSD chronologically, which is understandable, but means that many of the more interesting revelations occur in the first third of the book. The rest is focused on the emergence of LSD as a public benefit or public threat, depending on one’s perspective. In those sections all the expected notes are hit: Haight-Ashbury, Woodstock, and musicians such as Bob Dylan and the Beatles, et al.Although the authors should be commended for their mostly just-the-facts format, they sometimes veer into advocating LSD, even if just portraying it as psychological resource that never achieved its beneficial potential because of crime, paranoia, or the powers-that-be demonizing it… So, don’t mistake this for a strictly objective piece of journalism. Despite all this, though, “Acid Dreams” is still a surprisingly sturdy read. Now more than 30 years old, yes it's dated, but it’s also an impressive account of a chemical that did, whether we like it not, briefly change society.

  • Robbie Bruens
    2019-03-14 15:21

    Though little in the book is quite as ridiculous as the CIA-focused section that takes up the first 50-60 pages, the whole thing still serves as an excellent social history of a truly fascinating chemical. It makes a great companion piece to Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, and is full of memorable characters and anecdotes throughout, while illuminating how drug hysterias are born, grow and evolve. Read it if only to follow the adventures of the flamboyant acid dropping company man Captain Al Hubbard, a larger than life impresario if there ever was one, or the strange and enigmatic case of Ronald Stark aka Khouri Ali, a man whose story could not possibly be summed up with any efficiency here. Do not read it if you want to maintain any respect at all for Timothy Leary, as he comes off as a really self-involved loser despite the authors' measured sympathies for him. Here's a good summation of the book's narrative, half-true, which makes it truer in spirit than most of reality these days:"You don't hear about it any more, but people are still visiting the cosmos. We must always remember to thank the CIA and the army for LSD. That's what people forget...They invented LSD to control people and what they did was give us freedom. Sometimes it works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform." - John Lennon