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The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition since 1800 [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Snowdon
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The prohibition of alcohol in the USA was a notorious fiasco.

The War on Drugs has been a deadly failure.

Bans on alternative nicotine products keep people smoking cigarettes.

Attempts to suppress legal highs result in more drugs hitting the market.

Prohibition doesn't work but the world is filled with prohibitionists. Why?

Christopher Snowdon's new history of prohibitions is a panoramic study of how bans begin, who instigates them and why they fail. It is a story of moral panics, vested interests and popular hysteria, driven by people who believe that utopia is only ever one ban away.


The campaign for alcohol prohibition in the USA

The worldwide ban on opium and the dawn of the War on Drugs

The curious case of the European Union's ban on oral tobacco (snus)

The 1920s crusade to suppress drinking worldwide

The prohibition of Ecstasy and the rise of designer drugs

The enduring appeal of prohibitionist policies today

"The new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary Prohibition is a five-and-a-half-hour missed opportunity to demonstrate why bans on substances are doomed from the start. Fortunately, for those who want to understand the irresistible lure of all types of prohibitions, there is Christopher Snowdon’s The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition Since 1800. Although Snowdon’s comprehensive history will never reach as many people as the PBS series, The Art of Suppression makes the case that Burns seems to go out of his way to avoid: that prohibition of products that people desire, whether alcohol a century ago or Ecstasy today, is bound to fail miserably.
It is easy now, as Ken Burns has masterfully done, to ridicule the prohibition of alcohol. But Snowdon does the heavy lifting of catching modern-day Carrie Nations in the act. Despite a long history of failure, the public always seems ready to enlist in prohibitionist campaigns, perhaps believing, as Snowdon puts it, that “utopia is only ever one ban away.” - Jeff Stier, Reason magazine

"In masterfully charting the history of the prohibitionists’ war on pleasurable substances, in highlighting their endless failures to impose restrictions on the public, in exposing their dodgy use of statistics and ‘evidence bases’ to disguise moral arguments, and in emphasising the ability of us as individuals to exercise our capacity for self-restraint and personal responsibility, Snowdon does all of us determined to challenge the contemporary prohibitionist movement a great service." - Patrick Hayes, Spiked

“When the law cuts off one avenue of pleasure, new sources are invariably found,” as Snowdon puts it. If there is any great demand for a certain product, be it food, drink, drugs or sex, then the risks of purveying it are met by colossal rewards. The Art of Suppression is full of great facts – its description of opium-addicted Britain before the wars is particularly memorable. But its real impact is its pithy denunciation of the prohibitionist cause. It ends with a modest proposal for a more practical and tolerant approach to drugs of all kinds. In his modesty Snowdon does not hold much hope for implementation. But this book must make that goal more likely." - Tom Miers, author of Democracy and the Fall of the West

"The Art of Suppression is an interesting book by a forceful and persuasive writer who reminds us that eternal vigilance is the price drinkers must pay to ensure our right to drink remains secure." - American Brewer magazine

" excellent account of the tactics of prohibitionists" - Clive Bates, former director of Action on Smoking and Health (UK)

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 485 KB
  • Print Length: 271 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0956226531
  • Publisher: Little Dice; 1 edition (29 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0087IQGYG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #271,070 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Snowdon takes you through the history of modern prohibition in his finely crafted well research book. Snowdon writes in a similar fashion to an angsty Bill Bryson, bringing the story of prohibition to life with characters and a facts.

The story of sabre rattling temperance lobbyists who succeeded and failed to prohibit alcohol. The criminalisation of opiates, and Western prejudices against the ancient Chinese habit. The paradoxical EU ban on snus. Snus is oral tobacco, something which I would recommend to my father who has tried many times to give up smoking. Smoking may kill him. Snus might stop him from killing us. Snus is probably the solution. Politicians who are genuinely interested in harm reduction need to lift the ban.

The unintended consequences of drugs and alcohol policy is something the general public rarely consider. A "Just ban it" attitude, requires less thought than actually considering if a ban will actually work and what other effects might arise.

If ecstasy was still legal, would the West kids experimenting with "meow meow" ? From experience I can tell you that ecstasy is superior in every way. "Equacy" is far more dangerous, and I rather enjoy that too. A cocktail of ecstacy and equacy could easily prove to be lethal, but horses are very empathic aren't they?

Did Iceland's ban on beer and not spirits, turn them into the nation with the highest level of alcoholism per capita?

If snus was legal in the UK, would people switch their method of taking nicotine? Would this prevent ten of thousands deaths per year? After reading Mr Snowdon's book, I am convinced it would. The evidence is there.

An excellent and enjoyable read. A must read for anyone interested in public health policy and harm reduction.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Snowdon spreads his net wider 11 Nov. 2011
Snowdon's latest book takes a broad-angle look at one of his favourite themes, government prohibition. Having tackled smoking in "Velvet Glove, Iron Fist" he now looks at the history of drink and drug prohibiton. His writing is, as ever, entertaining, and his historical approach is punctillious. There are plenty of good yarns about the personalities who have fought over pharmaceuticals for the past couple of centuries. In the final chapter he lets rip with his own prescription for a more equable and tolerant approach, although he's lucid enough to realize that decriminalization hasn't a chance. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very enlightening and informative read. 20 Jan. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Chris Snowdon deftly explains the history of prohibition, and demonstrates how the unintended consequences of limiting personal freedoms are often much worse than the thing that is being prohibited. The ban on alcohol in the States in the 1920s led to more crime and more alcohol-related fatalities and injuries. The ban on the relatively harmless opium helped to proliferate the use of heroin. The ban on Ecstasy has led to ever more inventive, and perhaps more dangerous, designer drugs.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great, interesting and concise history of drug prohibition all in one book! A must-read if interested in drug policy, war on drugs and society.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Short History Of Prohibition 22 May 2012
By Jan E. Johnson - Published on
Chris Snowdon author of Velvet Glove Iron Fist does it again.

If you enjoyed that book and it's compact but engaging history of smoking and the anti-smoking movement you will no doubt enjoy this book.

He tackles such diverse yet intertwined subjects as the EU's ban on oral tobacco,the beginnings of prohibition of alcohol in the US and the prohibition of designer highs or club drugs.

What begins as a short journey through a world so far away hits very close to home as Chris shows us that all throughout time this has been a way to control others.

By making these things illegal it is truly a moral crusade and not something based on the desire for the well being of others.

Chris Snowdon tackles such hard hitting topics with a light touch.

A wonderful and deeply engrossing read.
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible and enjoyable overview! 21 April 2014
By Michael J. Mcfadden - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Snowdon has brought together a set of various attempts at Prohibitions of everything from alcohol, snus, opium, all the way up to the various "Designer Drugs" of the 21st century, and combined a social analysis of how the forces were gathered to attack their use with a realistic view of both the damage the substances themselves inflicted compared to the damages wrought by the campaigns against them.

Just as with his classic "Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History of Antismoking," the author combines a relaxed "storytelling" style with hard historical facts, scientific analysis, and a look at the relevant health, social, and economic statistics. It's an approach to historical writing that helps the substance of the material and the insights gained stick in a readers head, and it's an approach that's far too rarely used. Snowdon does it successfully and with good style!

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the realities of substance abuse and the historical efforts, and particularly the failures of those efforts, against it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 27 Mar. 2014
By J burns - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fantastic ! Great reading and very interesting! It shows how we got to this mess with the modern day drug war.. I highly recamend the book
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