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Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream [Paperback]

Jay Stevens
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 May 1993 Paladin Books
To a generation of psychotherapists, LSD was a door to the unconscious. To the CIA, which purchased enough to turn on 100 million people, it was potentially a mind-control weapon. To Aldous Huxley, it was a force which could push mankind up the evolutionary ladder, a belief inherited by Dr Timothy Leary, who thought LSD would transform America into a spiritual Utopia. "Storming Heaven" begins in scientific investigation and ends in social and cultural revolution. With names like Henry Luce, Cary Grant, Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey, G Gordon Liddy and Charles Manson, the books examines a force which shaped contemporary America.

Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; (Reissue) edition (24 May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0586087966
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586087961
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 408,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

The extraordinary story of how LSD evolved from a psychiatric experience to a social and political revolution, 'Storming Heaven' is a brilliant, revelatory investigation into how the powerful hallucinogenic drug has been used and abused. From the first explorations into LSD's psychotic effects by the American establishment to the notorious 'Summer of Love', the positive role of the mind-expanding and creative properties of the drug is a debate that has been raging for over a generation, from Aldous Huxley to Allen Ginsberg, Ken Kesey to Timothy Leary and Charles Manson. 'Storming Heaven' guides us through an American Dream that was – for many who tuned in, turned on and dropped out – an epic hallucination.

"A valuable historical document."

"A story about the imagination unleashed… full of irony and anecdote."

"A fascinating book… aided by an awesome amount of research and detail."

"A remarkably fluent and intelligent book."
DAVID WIDGERY, 'New Statesman & Society'

"Stevens's narrative moves along at a cracking pace… reads like a good, often funny detective yarn."

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Had you asked your average hippie about beginnings, you would have discovered there were as many as there were hippies-everyone had a favorite chronology. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars White Light 8 July 2012
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
A definitive run through not just of LSD but its impact on Amerikana and its shift in consciousness from both spectrums of a revolt, the right and the left. MK ultra and the secret CIA experiments in liquid Cannabis, the synthesis of LSD from ergot by Hoffman, Mescale, the Mushroom by amateur botanists from Eastern Europe. All becomes embroiled within Huxley, the Beats, Anais Nin and the hundreds of hippies who refused to buy into the dream.

Meanwhile the author excavates the various American phenomenons such as the march to the suburbs in the 50's the desire for conformity after being on the receipt of gindng poverty in the 1940's. Then the utter sterility of the burbs with their indentikit lives and the counter reaction.

As McCarthy set to purge the USA of Communists, the LSD counter reaction was being launched by a small intellectual elite who viewed it as a one way trip to Nirvana. Within the text it has some sound harm reduction advice, such as someone to assist with the trip and coax people out of their reverie and fugue if it begins to nose dive. Setting, suggestion, beliefs and support are absolutely crucial to the event.

He pieces together the links between Leary, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kerouac, Huxley and the various academic adherents who flocked to the LSD seminars at Harvard before it was dispensed to the masses and then demonised. The history of LSD, psilocybin, mescale and peyote all came alive in the book,

It shifts through the sands of history with academic precision in easily digestible prose based on the American experience of lysergia looking at both the pros and cons of the changes in viewing the world.

A thorough journey through the times of the past to reach the present. If you want to understand America in 450 pages then begin here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sh'it out of the Singularity 24 Mar 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In a nutshell, this subject is unerving in its implications and I am not suprised that the constipated authorities want to repress this informatio. Forget what the quantum physicists are telling you bacause the other world was discovered a few generations ago.

Its a sad indictment of our world that there are only two books written about this amazing period. Plop on Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings! Acid Dreams and Storming Heaven are the real deal. Both are quality books, but Storming Heaven is twice as thick as Acid Dreams and, I found anyway, gives a more mystical treatment of LSD. Acid Dreams is very political, but both books cover similar territory and so they can be read side by side. Prepare to have your jaw dropped by reading Acid Dreams, I know mine did!

The information in here is eye popping, the book is thick but very readable and so there is plenty of back story on the interesting characters of the period, like Gerald Heard, who was an even greater polymath than the renowned polymath Aldous Huxley, or the young Terence McKenna, just back from the Amazon with weird stories to tell. There is a very interesting conclusion that Acid Dreams makes that is different from the later Terence McKenna version of the psychedelic experience. McKenna argued that psychedelics shrink the ego and so would create nicer people (I explain it crudely but that are the gist). This book shows that LSD mostly created ego monsters, because the more acid you took, the more egi-driven you became. This is why the counter culture figures of the 1960's went a bit bonkers towards the end. The CIA knew this and so they flooded the youth movement with pure LSD and, by doing this clever trick, they destroyed the New-Left.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible slice of modern history 13 Nov 2009
Storming Heaven is a book that will forever stay dear to my heart as it literally changed my life. I can't expect anyone else to have the same experience I did, and it changed it in a way you probably wouldn't imagine, but I can definitely recommend you this book and say it is a fantastic read. Jay Stevens has written a completely non-sensationalistic, thoroughly researched and extremely compelling account of a chapter in modern history that has, unfortunately, become distorted in contemporary consciousness. This book doesn't create a rose-tinted view of the American 60's cultural revolution, but instead unearths its roots, explores its good side and bad, and never forgets to remain dogged in pursuit of the truth. That isn't to say that the book is dry, far from it, this is a page-turner that will ultimately break your heart.

The story contained within is fascinating, far broader than mere drug experiences and filled with unforgettable characters. It is an incredible history lesson about a recent time you probably thought you already understood, but after reading this, will realize you didn't. If you have any interest in modern history, American culture, or indeed the potent chemical mentioned in the book's title, this is *essential* reading.

It expanded my perceptions without the use of drugs, I hope it will do the same for you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the alternative history book 8 Jan 2003
By simon gurney HALL OF FAME
Storming Heaven is a history of the movers and shakers of the drugs revolution which started in California and whose ripples can still be felt.
As LSD spreads through the universities, music studios and film lots, Jay Stevens charts the adventures of many of the acid lumineries such as Ken Kesey and the merry pranksters, the grateful dead and how the movement suddenly took on a huge momentum, which forced the forsec of law and order into action.
A great insight into ther period, with a very west coast flavour.
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