Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography

Dominic Streatfeild

Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography

Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography

  • Title: Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography
  • Author: Dominic Streatfeild
  • ISBN: 9780312422264
  • Page: 324
  • Format: Paperback

The story of cocaine isn t just about crime and profit it s about psychoanalysis, about empire building, about exploitation, emancipation, and, ultimately, about power To tell the story of the twentieth century without reference to this drug and its contribution is to miss a vital and fascinating strand of social history Streatfeild examines the story of cocaine from itThe story of cocaine isn t just about crime and profit it s about psychoanalysis, about empire building, about exploitation, emancipation, and, ultimately, about power To tell the story of the twentieth century without reference to this drug and its contribution is to miss a vital and fascinating strand of social history Streatfeild examines the story of cocaine from its first medical uses to the worldwide chaos it causes today His research takes him from the arcane reaches of the British Library to the isolation cells of America s most secure prisons from the crackhouses of New York to the jungles of Bolivia and Colombia.

Recent Comments "Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography"

So far:First of all--a note on the book's tone, which is familiar, cutesy, silly, very British. A bit *too* silly, it is also endearing, & can get the reader through a lot of initially dry but important material such as Inca history, Spanish colonial mines & the forced labor system of mita imposed on the native South Americans, patent medicines, & the way cocaine interweaves through all these stories. I also enjoyed how he depicted the process of research for the book itself, making [...]

Excellent book. Streatfield has done his homework and really gives you the full picture. He gives you the coca plants history all the way back to the Incas and explains how enmeshed it is in South American culture. He then explains the difference between coca and it's refined cousins cocaine and eventually crack. Streatfield sets the scene for the cocaine battle between South America and US drug enforcement agencies and explains why we will never eradicate this drug. He offers different opinions [...]

The title's claim that this is an "unathorized" biography may seem audacious or precious, but it becomes quite clear that once cocaine was discovered from coca, cocaine took a life of it's own, as much as any historical figure propelling some of the most significant historical events and economic triggers in modern world history. It would be easy to assign Streatfield's claims and research as conspiracy theory writing, but his claims promote no agenda, defend nor villianize any of the players in [...]

Well researched, well written. Strikes the ideal non-fiction balance between being engaging and being informative. Starting in the coca plants ancient history, Streatfeild takes you on a tour that passes through it's discovery by the West, the creation of the drug cocaine, the epidemic of cocaine use when it was considered a medicine, the subsequent push to criminalize and decrease use, the creation of an enormous illicit trade, the creation of crack cocaine, and through the "war on drugs" to ta [...]

Maybe 4.5 stars.We start with exploring coca the plant, journey through the early medical uses of the plant, which include being one of the first topical anesthetics- particularly important for eye surgery in which the patients needed to move their eyes when the doctor told them, so they had to be awake. This was seriously painful to read. Of course, early on, folks thought of it as a wonder drug. It talks us through the cycles of cocaine's popularity and of course, the crack epidemic. It spends [...]

"Drug use was unAmerican, goddammit. You wouldn't catch Abraham Lincoln smoking crack."What can I say about this book? Informative, engaging, cheekily written, and thought-provoking. While I think Streatfield occasionally ventures into tinfoil hat territory, he backs up his arguments, so they don't seem AS tin-foil hatty. From the ancient Incas to 1980s Columbia, if cocaine use happened anywhere, Streatfield covers it - and goes the extra mile (in my opinion) in spending time about the very real [...]

Fascinating story, well-written, with just the right amount of British humour (see what I did there?). Probably the only fault I have is how old it is. I'd love to know the current status of cocaine; I suspect that there is little powder cocaine around in the US and it is mostly crack. Some people might find the beginning chapters a little dry - coca leaves have been chewed in South America for centuries, generally for the "lift" it provides, in terms of energy and ability to concentrate and wor [...]

A very interesting story, part journey of a man, part research into the drug's origin. The stories he told about how he came about with the knowledge he shares is often more interesting than the drug itself. You might need to do a bit of cocaine to get through the drier parts but overall educating and amusing.


An incredibly well researched and hilarious book, in a way only a Brit could write about such a serious topic. Filled with self deprecating humour and total unease with himself, Dominic Streatfeild courageously interviews some famously "bad" dudes. What is the most striking is that they do just seem like regular guys who saw a way to make an insane amount of money all while succumbing to megalomania. Obviously we all know that the Coca leaves have been chewed for thousands of years for a pick me [...]

Dominic Streatfeild does a masterful job of tying together several thousand years of history into 500 pages. This was an ambitious (and dangerous) project, and along every step of the way, you feel as if you're walking alongside him. It's a fascinating book, and a cautionary tale about the dangerous road we're heading down. A must-read.Throughout, Streatfeild writes with a wit and rhythm that defied my expectations. 500 pages about a single drug is a lot, and when 150 pages doesn't even touch th [...]

BlurbThe story of cocaine isn’t just about crime and profit; it’s about psychoanalysis, about empire building, about exploitation, emancipation, and, ultimately, about power. To tell the story of the twentieth century without reference to this drug and its contribution is to miss a vital and fascinating strand of social history. Streatfeild examines the story of cocaine from its first medical uses to the worldwide chaos it causes today. His research takes him from the arcane reaches of the B [...]

Unlike other authors who have tackled the subject of illicit drugs, Dominic Streatfield lays no subtitled spin on his subject. His approach mirrors traditional biographies, thick profiles of historical figures or movements or ideas. In Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography, we simply learn about where cocaine came from, the people who discovered it, the people who converted it from coca leaves into powder and then (much later) smokable rocks, and the people who use it, sell it, sell it big time, an [...]

Streatfeild might be the perfect person to tell you all about cocaine, because at the outset of writing this book he knew as much about it as the average Westerner: i. e not much. That might sound like a bad thing but it actually isn't, because Streatfeild goes into the history, culture, and economics of cocaine with no preconceived notions. He talks to everyone from Colombian politicians to DEA agents to Freud experts to Marxist guerrillas to world-famous most-wanted traffickers, and he does it [...]

microhistories are great ways to look at the world. they're kind of like the historical equivalent of taking a biopsy - choose an angle of incision, cut a paper-thin slice, and look at it under a microscope. not always helpful in understanding what's going on in the body as a whole, but if you choose the right angle it can be and regardless it's a trip to look at an enthusiastic drug-taker who has always avoided blow for one reason or another, this looked like a fine book to check out. and in ma [...]

This is a thorough treatment of cocaine, good for anybody who cares about fun, history, science, law, revolutions, media, The drug war is as close as I'll come to a litmus test of whether somebody is willing to engage in a substantive policy debate instead of sticking to a political orthodoxy. This book shows how dependent drug laws are on which groups are associated with drug use and drug control, and the social status of those groups.Since I wrote it out elsewhere, here's the skinny on mini di [...]

I've read a lot of books on the topic of drugs and about cocaine specifically. Dominic Streatfield takes an enormous amount of information and organizes it so well that what could be a dry book topic reads like a thriller. The story of cocaine is a convoluted one and it's tricky to just trace it's history much less delve into solutions. This book tackles it all, the history, the advancement of the drug, the various players involved in it's production or it's prosecution, it's effect on various c [...]

This was a fun book. I've found that I have a fondness for 'commodity history', which I suppose shouldn't surprise me, given my interest in trivia. Still, these kinds of books risk being ponderous, but thankfully that wasn't the case here. Streatfeild has a charming dry wit that he applies skillfully to his treatment of the topic, sprinkling it in just the right measures and in just the right places to make his narrative engrossing, while also avoiding making light of the heavier aspects of coca [...]

An indepth, objective, sometimes whimsical book accounting the history of cocaine in the context of different cultures, time periods, countries, classes, specific people, etc. Every three pages you seem to learn a new wild fact that you had never before heard. For example, Streatfeild claims at one point that the reason why Hitler and the Germans were late for D-Day was because Hitler had slept in, having taken sleeping pills the night before to counter-act his high from most like having taken c [...]

beware of the poppy history book. they will suck you in. there wasn't really much wrong with this book. the writer was great at being entertaining and it was well researched. and i agreed with 99% of what he was saying politically. it was cool to see such a poppy book seem to be in favor of cocaine legalization while acknowledging how horrible it was for people. and i loved how the the writer inserted himself into the narrative. but it was really a bit of a waste for me to tread 500 pages into t [...]

This book is a little heavy on the first-person, but it doesn't take long to realize why: The process of researching it had to be at least as fascinating (not to mention dangerous) as the actual story of cocaine. Streatfeild has some serious cojones, & he digs deep into every corner he can find -- from documenting Coca Cola's surprisingly twisted role in the drug wars to interviewing teenage narco-assassins deep in the Colombian jungle. He's the perfect narrator of this story, if only becaus [...]

Loved the book. Takes you back to the earlier discovery of the plant in South America amongst the Inca tribes and their daily consumption of the plant for stamina as they worked in the mines for days without food. Once it's properties had been discovered by the European slave holders, it wasn't long before it become the hottest property on earth. A famous philosopher experimented with, it was known for it's recreational use amongst the rich and wealthy and was once an ingrediant in a very very f [...]

"Hermann Knapp si jím potřel celý jazyk, nacpal si jej do uší, do očí, do úst. Následně si jej vstříkl do plic, šňupl si a pak (což rozhodně nebyla nutnost) si injekčně vpravil plnou dávku do penisu."Kokain je rozhodně nejzábavnější nauční literatura, jakou jsem kdy čet. A to počítám i edici Děsivé dějiny. Jasně, pasáž o neutuchající řežbě kartelů kdesi v bolívijskym pralese byla mírně nudná, ale tahle kniha musí dostat pět hvězdiček jednoduše p [...]

Who new Reading about cocaine could be Almost as interesting as doing it(er, uh so I've heard)? Anyway all(loooong time ago)experimentation aside, I really enjoyed reading this book. Like most books about one topic, it drags and gets long-winded at times but it has tons(or kilos?)of fun informational nuggets. Everything from Freud's assistant discovering it's use an anaesthetic to how ancient civilizations first discovered La Coca and used it to be more productive.What I really dug was how it in [...]

Um dos melhores livros que já li! Dominic Streatfeild faz um trabalho de pesquisa primoroso sobre um dos alcalóides mais famosos do reino vegetal. A história da coca é recriada com uma linguagem muito divertida, da época da identificação botânica da coca (Erytroxylum coca) até a mazela social do crack nos dias de hoje. Dominic busca abordar os aspectos sociais, científicos, farmacológicos sem perder em nenhuma destas abordagens o aspecto humano que torna a sua narrativa tão cativante [...]

this is pretty good. i knew vaguely how many people died in relation to cocaine (by that i mean how many people died because of genocidal americans/europeans) but now i know the details. i also know that, in tests to see how much effort rats will make to get coke vs. heroin, heroin rats (who were living as normally as one does when one is in a cage while on heroin) just gave up trying to get the heroin after a bit, whereas cocaine rats (who had stopped sleeping, eating, and fucking) were all dea [...]

Fascinating! This book thrilled me from beginning to end. Warning, if you carry this book in public, people will make stupid coke jokes. So if you like walking around unnoticed (like me) hide the cover as best you can. In my innocence, I never knew the intertwined relationships of politics, drugs, money, and government. Which confirms for me that the war on drugs in america is too profitable to cease, and the persecution of drug users so institutionalization that we wouldn't know what to do with [...]

One of my all time favorites. Whether you read it for information or simply enjoyment, there's plenty here to satisfy. Streatfield's writing style is straightforward enough to make the book an easy read, and colloquial enough to make it unique and entertaining. Good conversation material, here, and a fun book to lend out, due to its' propensity to quickly draw in the skeptical peruser and quickly have them devouring chapter after chapter - not unlike that certain substance upon which the book is [...]

I read this book for a college psych class about drugs and was NOT looking forward to it, since the class was basically hell on earth. However, I was pleasantly surprised at Streatfield's in depth and interesting work about the history and societal impact of cocaine. I thought the last third of the book dragged a little bit (but I also had a lot else going on) but I actually got through it pretty quickly because it was so interesting and very well put together. I'd recommend this book for anyone [...]

Steatfield illustrates a world full of history, chemistry, war, and humor. With a light touch he delves into the intricacies of the history of cocaine. Starting before the Incans, the Spanish colonization of the New World, touching upon Freund and the birth of modern medicine, through the cocaine crisis of the 20's to the 80's and the mafia and drug world this book encaptured me. Streathfield also touches upon the biology of addiction as well as the chemistry of cocaine. Sometimes its best to un [...]

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    Published :2019-02-23T00:54:54+00:00