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Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story [Paperback]

Alexander Shulgin , Ann Shulgin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: £17.99
Price: £12.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 978 pages
  • Publisher: Transform Press,U.S.; Reprint edition (22 May 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963009605
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963009609
  • Product Dimensions: 22.5 x 16.8 x 4.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
It's not often that you find a combination of scientific objectivity and readability, but this joint effort by Shulgin and his wife Anne was entertaining, enlightening, and passed on a wealth of information, both personal and professional in nature.

Here you find a fascinating account of their brave excursions into the inner unknown, an account of the plusses and minuses of their experiences, a glimpse of the theraputic possibilities that lay in MDMA, and a wealth of technical information, layed out in a manner that even a layman can appreciate and enjoy.
For further reading by the same author I also recommend TIHKAL, a book that tells the story of the Tryptamine family of compounds in the same entertaining manner.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By S. K.
Format:Paperback
The world would be a lesser place without Shulgin. He broaches a topic which is taboo in many circles with the respect and openness it deserves.

This book is about the pursuit of truth, not toeing the line of some politically correct agenda. It's a breath of fresh air. The smugness can grate at times but it certainly deosn't ruin the book.

I notice "drug abuse" is suggested as a tag for this review. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
alexander and anne shulgin are the chris columbus and the queen isabella of the mind. the book is split into a large scientific glossary, which spans some 400 pages, and a love story, of similar length, told through the medium of psychoactive drug experiences which they shared over the course of many years. the content is truly awe-inspiring at times (i guarantee you'll want to take some if not all the compounds they test) yet it becomes a little tedious in the midriff of anne's section. that said, i'm not a huge romantic. the magnificent glossary provides information on the synthesis, dosage and predicted responses to the several hundred compounds they have discovered or simply enjoyed. however this section can only considered as a reference. a highly recommended read both for those intruiged and disgusted by psychedelic drug culture.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to 'know' this is for you 30 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback
I resisted reading this book for several years. My own preconceptions about what a 'drug manual' might contain kept me away. However I was eventually coaxed into reading it by friends and I am very glad I did. This book really offers what so many 'self help' books claim to - a genuine program for self discovery - in a form that simply cannot fail. The science here is elegant, accurate and accessible. The psychology is subtle, sweet and supportive. Both the authors have been brave enough to show enough of themselves to offer the reader real insight. They are explorers at the limits of the known, but they are frail, fallible and imperfect. The Shulgin's have made no attempt to set themselves up a gurus. Instead they have simply offered the keys to self exploration along with a narrative that acts as a guide to the sorts of things one might uncover.

If you are someone who is ready to let go of the certainties with which you were raised, if you are someone who is prepared to be brave in the pursuit of real reward or if you are someone finally ready to have a long hard look at yourself this book is for you. Read it, then pass your copy on. The book deserves to become a movement.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only half good 29 May 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This volume is the definative work on phenyl etheylamines (PE) that are used for "recreational" uses. It is a weighty volume, being some 2" thick. Unfortunately, the first inch of the volume is Shulgin's meandering "biography" of his life with PE, and to a chemist does not make much sense. This book should have been issued in two parts so that those who do not want to read Shulgin's drivel would be spared it.

But the second part - ah... the second part, to a chemist it is shear heaven. Shulgin really DOES know his chemistry, and the syntheses he describes are poetry - however, the kitchen sink chemist who is making them to sell on the black market would not get joy from this section - it is PURE organic synthesis, and the processes Shulgin describes would be difficult to replicate outside of a university or industrial lab. But to read it ( for an organic chemist) is to be transported to the seventh heaven. For this reason and this reason alone, I award it five stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In praise. 3 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
PIHKAL, is a book of great power, and wisdom. It should be compulsory reading for every law maker in goverment.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hit and miss 18 Jun 2010
By Paul
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well, there are really good bits and some bits that the book could easily do without.
Shura's own parts are pretty good, albeit not a literary gem. Quite frankly, for me as a physicist the most entertaining part was to see glimpses of how organic chemists work, the thought process itself. Trip reports and that sort of stuff, I've had better, but still OK, especially given the variety he's been going through... The cookbook can be fascinating if you have no idea how organic synthesis works in general - just reading through the methodology can be a page-turner.
Now, Alice's parts (half the first part of the book, give or take) - wow. Not in a good sense. Self-obsessed, centered pointlessly around Shura's affair with another woman to start with and later on drifting towards strikingly shallow para-philosophy, it would be more at home among Danielle Steele's paperbacks with so little attention given to the book's subject matter. Perhaps it's me who's missing the point and there's a good reason why a couple of hundred pages in the book are more or less dedicated to what Alice thought about Ursula, that other woman. I just don't see what phenethylamines have got to do with it.
So overall if you're looking for something along Castaneda's lines with more scientific slant on it, I don't know, I would say keep looking. Shulgin is Shulgin, a genius of a chemist, but his wife ain't one and it's her contribution that spoiled it for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and insightful
Very much enjoying it so far, excellently written and captivating from the get go, I read bits whenever I can
Published 7 months ago by Josh Orshansky
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning book.
A brilliant read for anyone who is interested in pharmacology, the Shulgins or the drugs that Alexander has synthesized. Thoroughly enjoyed the whole book, cover to cover. Read more
Published 17 months ago by George Parkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Phikal
Phikal one and two are both an interesting read - I was under the impression that most 'drugs' were made from some sort of organic biomass (at least as a starting matearial), not... Read more
Published on 30 Aug 2011 by Tony
4.0 out of 5 stars Intrigueing
This is an interesting read. I would not say it is exceptionally well-written, but the book conveys a clear message using the firstperson narrator; it allows for a autobiographical... Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2009 by Albert oosterkamp
4.0 out of 5 stars self obsessed but still of value
It is inevitable that a semi-autobiographical work on the function of the brain should do a fair bit of navel gazing. PiHKAL however pushes it a bit far. Read more
Published on 10 Oct 2003 by "rekz"
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read and certainly a talking point
The book tells what it assumed to be an autobiography of Alexander and Ann Shulgin (the names have been changed, probably due to the subject matter covered). Read more
Published on 4 Jun 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars PEA
This is a very good book. Alex has clearly worked very hard to bring you this. The first part is a story of his life experiences and is definately an enjoyable read. Read more
Published on 14 April 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars PEA
This is a good book. Alex has clearly worked very hard in bringing you this. The first part is a story of his life experiences and is definately an enjoyable read. Read more
Published on 14 April 2001
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