Hep-Cats, Narcs, and Pipe Dreams: A History of America's Romance with Illegal Drugs

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9780801861659: Hep-Cats, Narcs, and Pipe Dreams: A History of America's Romance with Illegal Drugs

"Fascinating, well researched and finely honed... This is a must read." -- Judge Peggy F. Hora, California BenchOnce upon a time in America, morphine and cocaine were routinely sold in pharmacies, and "hop heads" gathered in shadowy basements to smoke opium. So begins Hep-Cats, Narcs, and Pipe Dreams, Jill Jonnes's ground-breaking history of illegal drugs in America. Jonnes vividly traces our first turn-of-the-century drug epidemic, successfully quelled, and then follows the story into the postwar era: starting in the jazz world of the northern cities and moving through the "flower power" 1960s to the cocaine and crack explosion of the 1980s and 1990s.

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Review:

Jill Jonnes provides a highly detailed and enormously readable history of American drug use in the 20th century, making the important point that narcotics were a problem long before their naive glorification in the 1960s. Without ever sounding preachy, she calls for re-stigmatizing illegal drugs. "The societal costs of widely available drugs clearly outweigh whatever pleasure and insight they provide to those who can handle them," she concludes. "Just Say No" may have seemed corny, but there was something to it.

About the Author:

Jill Jonnes had been a journalist for many years when she earned a Ph.D. degree in history from Johns Hopkins. She curated the new U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Museum's exhibit "Illegal Drugs in America: A Modern History."

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