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Albion Dreaming: A popular history of LSD in Britain Hardcover – 30 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Marshall Cavendish (30 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905736274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905736270
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 17.1 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 402,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Andy Roberts is a feature writer for the Fortean Times magazine. He is the author of 13 books and is a consultant to the BBC. He lives in Flintshire, North Wales.

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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By K. White on 6 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Until now there have been no books which deal specifically with the history of LSD use in Britain. The American scene is well served by tomes such as Storming Heaven and Acid Dreams and the uninitiated would be forgiven for thinking that LSD story is exclusively American in nature. Albion Dreaming puts the record straight on this matter and in the process opens up a window into a world few are aware of - a hidden history of a vital part of Britain's underground culture. But LSD wasn't always underground. In Albion Dreaming, Roberts charts the early days of the drug in Britain, a naïve world in which MI6 and later the MOD, believed they could make LSD work for them as a weapon or interrogation tool. Roberts' accounts of the rather pathetic attempts of MI6 to test LSD as an interrogation tool on unsuspecting servicemen make for amusing - if disturbing - reading. Clearly the intelligence services hadn't got a clue about what they were dealing with and they soon abandoned the drug. At the same time the military were flexing their lysergic muscles there was a revolution taking place in psychotherapy as LSD became widely used, most notably in hospitals such as Powick in Gloucestershire. There, Dr Ronnie Sandison embarked on a major programme of LSD psychotherapy in a specially built `LSD Block'. What Sandison didn't know at the time was that the funding had been arranged by a close friend of Sandison's who, unbeknownst to Sandison, was actually attending Secret Intelligence Services meetings!

Eventually and inevitably LSD made the leap from the clinic to public use. Roberts has traced the recreational use of LSD to the late Fifties, years before it was made illegal.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Love Rat 69 on 17 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Roberts covers a lot of ground as he details Albionic acid culture from the early days until now... The sweep is impressive but he also provides lots of interesting details. There is material in here that doesn't seem to have been discussed outside very select circles in recent years - the Ladbroke Grove drugs and magic scene (first spliff, then acid) around THE original mod Terry Taylor (the model for the narrator of Absolute Beginners - and the first British writer to mention LSD in a novel, his 1961 cult classic Baron's Court, All Change); not to mention stuff on the Victor James Kapur acid manufacturing bust (north London 1967, the first such bust after criminalisation). There's also the inside dope on military research with LSD, medical uses and the free festival scene. So all in all essential reading for anyone wanting to know about the impact of LSD on Albion....
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Hengeworld on 11 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Albion Dreaming is a serious attempt to re-evaluate and document the use of LSD in popular British culture since its discovery 70 years ago, around the same time as the atomic bomb. Although well written, it is a book aimed for a popular, rather than a medical or academic readership. Whatever your views on LSD, its impact on culture in the UK has been phenomenal. From secret MI5 and psychiatric experiments, to beatnik magic experiments, the psychedelic 60s through free festivals, new age travellers and the rave scene.
In our culture LSD, as well as being a folk devil, has also been associated with very positive life-changing experiences and self- initiation. For many people acid has led to an increased awareness of ecological concerns, spirituality, communality and a better understanding of how the mind works. Roberts points out that its legal position has often been out of proportion to its documented dangers, and that illicit LSD manufacturers tend to be ideologically rather than commercially motivated. Proper medical research on what is certainly an unusual and is possibly a very valuable drug has never really happened. This has been thanks to tabloid hysteria and political timidity and public fears. Tabloid hysteria and moral panic has also led to disproportionate judicial repression of LSD manufacturers, suppliers and users, some of which is documented here.
Being concerned with mythology, magic, urban legend and new religions, it is ideal material for a seasoned Fortean researcher like Andy Roberts. The book is very well-researched, much of the material here has never been published before, rumours and hearsay have been followed up, and facts have been checked. Roberts also emphasises how mindset and environmental setting are vital to how LSD is experienced and how the effects of LSD, especially within in a society such as our own, are not always positive.
A big fat book which provides a fascinating read about what remains a very controversial subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bill B on 19 July 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lysergic acid diethylamide-25 is a wonderful, powerful, mysterious (and for some unfortunate trippers, dangerous) compound. In Albion Dreaming Roberts takes the reader on a fascinating voyage from Hoffmann's synthesis of LSD in 1938 and his first trip in 1943 in Switzerland to the first time it was used in Britain. From there, he delves into the various ways researchers used it, for both medical and military purposes, and then goes on to deal with its dissemination amongst certain elements of society at large, the ensuing explosion of consciousness expansion and how it came to change (yes - really) the world, arguably for the better. Roberts tells us how acid influenced artists, musicians, writers, ecologists and those involved in psychology and spirituality and how LSD-inspired imagery has been, and still is, used in art, the music industry, fashion and advertising.

This is backed up by meticulous research (although Leary was a psychologist not a psychiatrist as pointed out in another review), interviews with many of the key players and is skilfully set within the context of British culture and politics over the past six decades.

He investigates acid-related conspiracy theories involving the CIA and the British Establishment, the free festival era, the motivations of chemists and distributors and many other psychedelic topics. We are introduced to acid's proponents and its detractors (this latter category being, principally, the gutter press with its witch-hunt that, hilariously, turned tens of thousands on to its use and, tragically, persuaded the Establishment to make it illegal).
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