rachelmanija: (Book Fix)
rachelmanija ([personal profile] rachelmanija) wrote2017-07-10 01:48 pm

Chasing the Scream, by Johann Hari

A readable, gripping, informative, and convincing report on the War On Drugs. Hari covers its despicable history starting in the 1930s (created by a sort of coalition of racist politicians and gangsters eager to profit), its horrific results (millions of murders, overdoses, and lives needlessly destroyed), the actual science and psychology of addiction (not what we're told, at least in the US), and a portrait of the few places that have been able to try decriminalization and legalization, despite massive pressure not to do so (their drug problems universally get better, not worse.)

I knew the broad outlines of this story, but not the details, so this book was very educational for me. The part I knew best was about how addiction really works; I can't vouch for the rest of the material, but everything he said about research on addiction matches what I know. I have some arguments or different perspectives on some of his conclusions, but not with his facts. So even if you know a fair amount about the subject already, it's still very much worth reading.

I highly recommend this if you can deal with absolutely horrific stuff in the first half, which is about the War On Drugs and is wall-to-wall hideous injustices, tragic deaths, and gruesome violence. If not, you could just read the second half, which is about addiction and how a few places are dealing with drugs in a compassionate and sane manner.

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs