A definitive run a potted history of counter cultural delights - not just of LSD but its impact on modern Amerikana and its shift in a collective consciousness from both spectrums of a revolt, the right and the left. It was viewed as a useful drug for eliciting truth.
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 were used within the Cold War to obtain truth. The trouble is truth is always relative and drug truth - well it may unlike the unconscious but all you may get is a babble of thoughts. As the drug culture percolated it found its way into the hands of the literacy elites;. Huxley, the Beats, Anais Nin and Junger.
Then a way was fought between the elitism of Huxley and the populism of Leary. The latter wanted everyone to turn on and for society to change its consciousness - not a bad ideas as it sounds increasingly in retrospect. At the beginning of the 1960's the USA was a land of conformity, the Happy Daze era still lying like a low cloud over the collective vision. It was due to Vietnam and conscription that the USA began to transform. Refuseniks; bears, incense and peace ruled over the land and hippies tripping and then discovering their inner consciousness began to take root.
These people began to transform the social world and the drug culture.
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 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. Therefore it is not just a plotted history but also has important information.
Meanwhile it shifts through the sands of history with a certain guided 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.
on 1 March 2014
This is a well-researched interesting take on the history of LSD, and a very worthwhile contribution to the history of psychedelic use.
Unfortunately the errors in the Kindle version are a serious distraction. A combination of poor OCR from a print original, and non-compliant AZW compilation appear to be at fault.
For example, Abraham Hoffer's name in interchangeably rendered as Hotter and Hoffer, Harry J Anslinger's name is Ainslinger. The word "Island" is always italicised, whether correctly as in Huxley's novel, or incorrectly as in Long Island. There is no Table of Contents. The footnotes on each chapter run into the next chapter. I have returned my purchase and requested a refund. I hope to purchase a better ebook version elsewhere.
on 15 February 2015
I read this fascinating book when it was first published and I was still a voyager back then. I would say that it is by far the best book on the alternative American dream, the best and most sober overview of acid and its related substances, and just generally an absolutely essential read. Utterly recommended.
on 7 March 2014
Started Reading and now I can't put the book down, this is an interesting book of the usage of LSD and informative. I would recommend this book to anybody with a interest in physcoactive drugs and would rate this book at 5*'s Thanks..
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.
on 17 April 2014
An unusual view of a period of history which gave me a lot to mull over. I was interested to from the start, snippets of a piece of history I missed.
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. LSD apparently helped boost the narcissistic powers of the counterculture leaders and that's why Timothy Leary went a bit daft. I happen to agree with that bit and it is also the opposite of Terence McKenna's version of creating a ego-less utopia with mushrooms.
My only criticism is that the book, well if can call it a criticism, is that it is centered on America. What about Germany or the UK, for example? Albert Hoffman had a secret gang of poets and philosophers doing LSD. Ernst Junger was one of the members. But there is no mention of this in here. Anyway, this is the definite history of God's gift to us apes!
Giving prostitues, and their clientele, LSD and peeping through the curtains is more comical than serious. But today, MK Ultra is up their in the popular imagination alongside gassing jews! Anyway, this is a fun read.
on 13 November 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.
on 26 June 2006
When I received this book I wasn't sure what I would be reading, but I was intrigued. The book covers LSD and mescalin and other hallucinogenic drugs in their context of 1950's America onwards, from government experiments to university parties. Most of all the cast of characters is astonishing, from Aldous Huxley to Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg to Timothy Leary. A facinating insight into a subculture, which has lead me on to read Kerouac, Huxley, Ginsberg, Kesey. Well worth a read
on 31 July 2014
product well described and quick delivery - thank you