Drugs in America: A Social History, 1800-1980

Drugs in America: A Social History, 1800-1980

Drugs in America: A Social History, 1800-1980

Drugs in America: A Social History, 1800-1980

Excerpt

This book developed out of my general interest in the late nineteenth century. While reading through the popular press in connection with another project, I discovered a great deal of comment on the "opium problem," and on drug use in general. I unearthed several addict memoirs and other unusual sources, and the medical literature proved a gold mine of information. After further research, it seemed to me that a brief general survey of the question with some depth and fresh information was in order, and this book is the result.

This work is directed to the general reader rather than the expert, though I hope it will be of use to American historians in general. The subject of drug use is very complex, and I have tried to focus this chronological analytical narrative on the theme of the relationship between the drug user and the perceived drug experience, and society's apparent reactions. I have tried throughout to give a sense of what people at given times thought about the problem, and to let the parties involved tell their own stories wherever possible. My views, and those of others, are clear at appropriate places.

The history of drug use is attracting historians, and scholarly works on various aspects of the subject appear fairly regularly, which was not the case when I started my research. I have decided, therefore, to summarize the aspects of the subject for which there are good secondary sources. I have not recounted in detail the drive for regulation, which is well told in David F. Musto, The American Disease (1974). Nor have I retold the story in Arnold H. Taylor American Diplomacy and the Narcotics Traffic, 1900-1939 (1969). The same is true of the fine monograph by Richard J. Bonnie andCharles H. Whitebread II, The Marihuana Conviction (1974).

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