Editorial Reviews for this title:
From the author of Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness: and Other Tales from the American Underground follows the money to uncover made the country rich: porn, pot and exploitation. In three linked essays, Eric Schlosser uncovers how dirty dealings and secret vices are part of a global black market on which we all depend. Reefer Madness traces the history of the contemporary 'war on drugs' from its origins in Reagan's social conservatism through to its profound impact on civil society, creating a justice system that punishes marijuana offences more harshly than rape and murder. An Empire of the Obscene tells the story of Reuben Sturman, the billionaire 'Walt Disney of porn' who most effectively exploited economies of scale to create a business that now saturates America and the world with graphic sexual imagery. In the Strawberry Fields shows how public demand for a soft red fruit is causing mass migration from Central America and changing California's political economy forever. "An amazing secret history of America's favourite vices". (Independent). "A shocking journey through the underside of the world's mightiest economy". (The Times). "Schlosser tells us things we already suspect to be true, but don't dare think about". (Daily Telegraph). "Superb ...mind-blowing ...quite simply the non-fiction book of the year". (The List). Eric Schlosser is an author and investigative journalist based in New York. His first book, Fast Food Nation, was a major international bestseller. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone and the Guardian.
As much as 10% of the American economy, and perhaps more, is comprised of illegal "underground" enterprises, according to author and Atlantic Monthly correspondent Eric Schlosser. And while this segment is never discussed in the newspaper business pages, Schlosser tackles it with the same in-depth analysis and compulsive readability that made his Fast Food Nation a best seller. Reefer Madness spotlights marijuana, migrant labor, and pornography, three of the most thriving black market industries, and analyzes the often-tenuous place each holds in society as a whole. While each of the three could be the subject of its own book, Schlosser keeps his scope narrow by concentrating on the lives of the participants in the underground economy, especially Mark Young, an Indiana man given a life sentence for participating in a marijuana sale, and Ohio porn magnate Reuben Sturman. At just 21 pages, the treatment of migrant laborers in the California strawberry fields is dealt with more briefly but is just as compelling thanks to the first-person narrative of Schlosser’s investigation. In telling these stories, which are both personal and universal, Schlosser deftly explores the manner in which his subjects are treated (and punished) compared to others in more above-ground ventures. Along the way, he asks hard questions as to what that treatment says about America. Schlosser writing is passionately opinionated, but this is no mere opinion piece: his perspective is amply supported by extensive research and clearly reasoned interpretation of data. His direct and forceful writing style makes the impact greater still. After reading Reefer Madness, readers are likely to be shocked, appalled, and flat-out bewildered by what’s happening in the cracks and crevices of American business. --John Moe
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