The New York Times Bestseller
The Book Behind the Viral TED Talk
For the first time, the startling full story of the disastrous war on drugs--propelled by moving human stories, revolutionary insight into addiction, and fearless international reporting.
What if everything you think you know about addiction is wrong? One of Johann Hari's earliest memories is of trying to wake up one of his relatives and not be able to. As he grew older, he realized he had addiction in his family. Confused, unable to know what to do, he set out on a three-year, 30,000-mile journey to discover what really causes addiction--and what really solves it.
He uncovered a range of remarkable human stories--of how the war on drugs began with Billie Holiday, the great jazz singer, being stalked and killed by a racist policeman; of the scientist who discovered the surprising key to addiction; and of the countries that ended their war on drugs--with extraordinary results.
His discoveries led him to give a TED talk and animation which have now been viewed more than 25 million times. This is the story of a life-changing journey that showed the world the opposite of addiction is connection.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Another must read in regards to the failed war on drugs...
this a comprehensive history on the war on drugs. it covers how the so called war on drugs started in the US and how it was forced on others countries. it explores all sides of this effort, why its failed, and why a prudent approach is critical. people will always seek altered states of consciousness; it's human nature just like eating, sex and using the restroom. the challenge is what's the best way to regulate it. prohibition has clearly not worked and never will. this book lays out the challenges and the contradictions... clearly, a paradigm shift is in the making. we ca no longer in prison people folks for conscious decisions to get high via alcohol or some other substance. some could argue that the war on drugs was the neo-Jim crow laws of the last part of the twentieth century and it has spilled over into the 21st century. read it for yourself and make your own decisions. but clearly a changed is needed and going to come. I encourage you to also read "Weed the People." Both provide a comprehensive perspective that can no longer be ignored. the war on drugs had and I'd ruining the live of millions of young men and women around the world. it must be stopped.
Comprehensive & Compelling
As a fan of Billie Holliday, I wanted to read this book to hear another view regarding her life and death. HUGE surprise as this book presented an entirely new view of addiction and our War On Drugs.
Let's End This Crazy War!
This book was so well-written and so powerful in its message that it was difficult to put down and even sad to finish it. I wanted to scream, myself, at how misguided we have been in our war on drugs these past 100 years. Mr. Hari attacks the arguments against decriminalization and legalization of drugs at every turn, and he does so with charm, eloquence, sound-reasoning, and above all, from the human perspective showing the lives of so many that have been negatively impacted and continue to be from this war.
It is rare for me to rate a book 5 stars. I wish everyone, worldwide, but especially in the United States, would read this book. Its prescription could literally change the world. Compassion is the key and while I am the bleeding-heart liberal type, I do not think it is too Polly Annie-ish of me to believe, in the western world at least, people are becoming more compassionate and realizing addiction is a sickness and we should treat it as such, not locking people away and throwing away the key.