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The War We Never Fought: The British Establishment's Surrender to Drugs [Hardcover]

Peter Hitchens
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Sep 2012
Again and again British politicians, commentators and celebrities intone that 'The War on Drugs has failed'. They then say that this is an argument for abandoning all attempts to reduce drug use through the criminal law.

In his new book, Peter Hitchens shows that in Britain, there has been no serious 'war on drugs' since 1971, when a Tory government adopted a Labour plan to implement the revolutionary Wootton report. This gave cannabis, the most widely used illegal substance, a special legal status as a supposedly 'soft' drug (in fact, Hitchens argues, it is at least as dangerous as heroin and cocaine because of the threat it poses to mental health). It began a progressive reduction of penalties for possession, and effectively disarmed the police. This process still continues, behind a screen of falsely 'tough' rhetoric from politicians. Far from there being a 'war on drugs', there has been a covert surrender to drugs, concealed behind an official obeisance to international treaty obligations. To all intents and purposes, cannabis is legal in Britain, and other major drugs are not far behind.

Hitchens uncovers the secret history of the government's true attitude, and the increasing recruitment of the police and courts to covert decriminalisation initiatives, and contrasts it with the rhetoric. Whatever and whoever is to blame for the undoubted mess of Britain's drug policy, it is not 'prohibition' or a 'war on drugs', for neither exists.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (27 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441173315
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441173317
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 277,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Peter Hitchens is a British journalist, author and broadcaster. He witnessed most of the final scenes of the Cold War, and was a resident correspondent in the Soviet capital and in Washington, DC. He frequently revisits both Russia and the USA. He currently writes for the Mail on Sunday, where he is a columnist and occasional foreign correspondent, reporting most recently from Iran, North Korea, Burma, The Congo and China. He won the journalism category in the 2010 George Orwell Prize for this correspondence.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this! 31 Dec 2013
By Me.
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a great book to read, for once a clear and honest look at the drug problem in the UK.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Logic or Law 29 Dec 2013
By malan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book reminded me of the incredulity I felt in my late teens when legislation was introduced to make the wearing of seat-belts in cars compulsory. Given the overwhelming nature of the evidence that wearing seat belts reduced injuries and saved lives why would anyone NOT wear a seat belt? I reasoned that those who failed to do so would potentially suffer the consequences of their decision, so why was a law needed. What I failed to understand then was that it wasn't just the non-wearer of the seat belt that suffered and paid the price - we all did - in terms of extra taxation to patch up the injured, to say nothing of the grief suffered by relatives of the injured or dead. I also failed to understand that a significant minority of human beings do not act logically - and needed the fear of financial penalty to encourage conformity with logic - and indeed the law as it became.
Peter Hitchens in this book argues a similar case for the use of illegal drugs. He makes the point that because cannabis, in particular, is/was deemed comparatively benign, enforcement of the law has effectively lapsed. He points out that cannabis is far from benign in its effects upon the human brain - indeed the jury is still out in many respects but the evidence is piling up. So why would anyone indulge in cannabis or any of the other mind-bending drugs when the danger signals are there for all to see.
You can refuse to wear a seat belt and come to no harm for much of the time - but when the chips are down you are likely to be the loser and the rest of us pay.
Can human beings be saved from themselves by Law or Logic? I doubt it, but this book makes it plain that without a fight we all have to cope with the consequences - the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff!.
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35 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely changed my perspective 15 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover
Before reading this book I had more of a libertarian attitude about drugs, especially cannabis, and didn't expect this to change. I knew Hitchens was no stranger to logical argument after reading his excellent book, "The Rage Against God," but I had yet to hear a good case for stronger laws against drugs.

After reading "The War We Never Fought," I have to admit I've changed my view. Hitchens is clearly a very intelligent man who despises drugs not because of Puritanical instinct (as some have accused him of) but because he's studied their effects on society. His writing style is very readable yet not condescending- this is a man who knows how to employ the pen.

I'm not going to try to lay out all his arguments here, but I would strongly recommend this book to anyone looking to gain more knowledge of the drugs debate.
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15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well reasoned, well argued and utterly needed 3 Jan 2013
Format:Hardcover
It is my understanding that many will instantly dismiss this book because of its author, because some find Hitchens' style and opinions to get right up their nose. It is needed.

It is needed because, as this book plainly and honestly points out, the debate on drugs and the law in Britain has been heading in the same biased direction amongst the political masses for some time - longer than most would think, which is one of the key arguments in Hitchens' case. As someone who grows tired with the poorly reasoned arguments of the pro-drug lobby, this book is recommended as a champion of sensible thinking. In fact, there is nothing terribly new or extraordinary about the arguments in this book, just a simple clear-headed (i.e. not high) plight for the general salvation of everyday morality in modern Britain.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Winning Argument 29 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover
Whilst it is obvious that Mr. Hitchens' personal morality is the spur for writing this book, what strikes me most is that the majority of this book is pure investigative journalism (remember that?). Like most of my generation (I'm 41), I had bought into the concept that Cannabis is a harmless drug - and generally a bit of fun. Hitchens explains in forensic detail how we have come to this point, and why, for the good of the whole of society, we should have never let it happen.

There are a very few places where I can't agree with him, such as his unintentionally funny obsession with the evils of "rock" music (yes, he does use the quotations). However where he presents the facts rather than his feelings, he conclusively wins the case that there has been no "war on drugs" in the UK.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 2 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Again. Hitchens gets to the bottom of issues that other authors are afraid to tackle, his concise detailing of how drugs have become mainstream has become an eye opener.
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23 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars highly recommended 22 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover
The writer, George Walden, says that people who use the words 'right wing' and 'left wing' are antiquated because, in the UK anyway, we've moved from a class system into a caste system. Check out Theodore Dalrymple on You Tube explaining how this happened.

A person from the upper caste, with his barbed wire fence, and his guard dogs, will probably be slightly out of touch with the 'give it to the people' drug debate.

Even though I like Peter Hitchens, he is also up there with the brahmins of public opinion, but this doesn't matter because you will be surprised that Peter supports 'working class' people and he hates party politics with the two 'dead party's' and he is probably as smart as his brother and he is far from the stupid conservative cliché. The reason he sometimes sounds somewhat stupid, you see, is because he gets paid loads of money for doing it. If the Daily Mail paid me, I would do the same.

Peter Hichens actually makes sense concerning the drugs debate. Hitchens says he is arguing for the person from the estates and millionaires are not. He argues that millionaire celebrities are not the people we should listen to because they are selfish and going after their own interest with pseudo social rhetoric.

It is only the selfish well to do who have taken MDMA and psilocybin and haven't been harmed by it (like me), indeed, who have gained some fancy philosophical insights, who want to give it to the masses (me also). Even Carl Sagan wanted to give pot to the masses; alas we are both out of touch then.

Friedrich Nietzsche says somewhere that there is a selfish whim behind every social musing and this is why you can see Russell Brands tonsils shouting at Peter on You Tube. Brand just wants to get high again.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Just say no
Peter Hitchens uses this book to strike at drugs-liberals with sheer logic and facts. Drugs are immoral, he states, and then backs it up with clear evidence that would make stoners... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Zero
5.0 out of 5 stars Square finds a circle
A book about the thoughts of someone who thinks extremely highly of himself, a man who wills himself to be heard above the throng. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles
4.0 out of 5 stars Response to institutional complacency
An important corrective to the standard self-interested rhetoric of the drugs lobby.

Putting morality back on the map is perhaps the single most controversial aspect of... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Hitchens is uncompromising when it comes to humbug and lies and...
All of Peter Hitchens books bring clarity to subjects which too many influential people would like to wrap up in a wooly fog and spout authoritarian lies and platitudes.
Published 12 months ago by Derek Oliver Sibthorpe
1.0 out of 5 stars Would-be iconoclast shoots himself in foot.
In the war we never fought Peter Hitchens launches a scathing attack on psychiatry. He thinks that psychiatry is hopelessly arbitrary and subjective and that psychiatrists simply... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Stuart Murray
4.0 out of 5 stars An uncomfortable truth
Once again, Peter Hitchens is right on the money. Mr Hitchens exposes the pro drugs lobby, politicians and the Police for what they really are. Read more
Published 14 months ago by yogaminty21
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched
I have most of Peter Hitchens books they are always well written and researched. I often argue with pro drug people on forums (the kind of people who condemn the book without... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Scotia
5.0 out of 5 stars At last the truth
Finally a decent put down to the cannabis lobby - ie those trying to convince themselves it's harmless and the clueless MPs etc who are worried they'll look "out of touch" if they... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Young Goblin
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