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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a revelation - read it!
I ordered this book from Amazon after reading a chapter from it posted on a website about the mysterious death of Frank Olson, a US army physician who was slipped a dose of LSD at a CIA research meeting and soon after supposedly "jumped" from an 8th floor window of a hotel while in the company of two CIA agents. This book is a revelation, particularly to those...
Published on 19 July 2001 by pandorauk

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3.0 out of 5 stars Good start but gets a bit less useful as it progresses
The early parts which detail the CIA's interest in and development of LSD as a possible weapon were revealing and some of the data given illustrates the grisly practice of the infamous psychiatric profession which hopefully will be a museum curiosity piece in the not too far distant future. The story then moves on to how LSD percolated into main stream life and turned...
Published 23 months ago by A. C. Phipps


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a revelation - read it!, 19 July 2001
I ordered this book from Amazon after reading a chapter from it posted on a website about the mysterious death of Frank Olson, a US army physician who was slipped a dose of LSD at a CIA research meeting and soon after supposedly "jumped" from an 8th floor window of a hotel while in the company of two CIA agents. This book is a revelation, particularly to those who still believe that the CIA are the "good guys" and the guardians of US security, and that LSD was not introduced into public use until the advent of Timothy Leary and Oswald Owsley in the 1960's. It outlines in detail the development of the CIA's interest in LSD as a potential weapon against spies in the Cold War in the 1950's, following it's invention in the Sandoz laboratories, its use in the MK-Ultra project, and the CIA's completely unregulated "surprise" testing of the drug on their own staff, unknowing patients in mental institutions and unsuspecting members of the public. It also gives a very thorough overview of social change, potitics, music and drugs in America in the 1960's, and the part played by LSD in this once it was taken up as a "mind-expanding" drug by Leary, Huxley, the Beatles, Haight-Ashbury and the New Left in America. This is an extremely well-researched and written book which is in turn shocking, funny, disgusting and interesting. For anyone who already has a vague mistrust of the CIA's covert operations, the information here will more confirm their doubts. I had no idea before reading this book of the CIA's role in introducing LSD into America, and I think it should be essential reading for anyone who is interested in recent American history and social change. A great read from beginning to end - never boring, always intelligent, and full of amazing information.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kids, Sh'it out a Singularity !!, 28 Aug 2011
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Its a sad indictment of our world that there are only two books written about this amazing period. Acid Dreams and Storming Heaven. 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!

So why should we take LSD seriously then? Well imagine this parallel history. Peasants break into Galileo's study, steal his telescope and party hard! After some hard telescopic mischief, the Pope goons smash all the telescopes and forbid the peasants from going anywhere near a telescope. Priests will from now-on scream from the pulpit that all telescopes are evil. This hysteria would have the effect of shutting down the promise of the revolution the telescope hailed and modern science. This is what happened to LSD!

Acid Dreams shows that, in the 1940's, psychedelics were not controversial and were in fact seen as the cutting edge in consciousness science. The psychedelic revolution took place at around the same time as the discovery of nuclear power. There was as much excitement about the promise of LSD as there was about the splitting of the atom. It's all in here.

I didn't know about LSD treating alcoholism, or the thousands of prestigious scientific journals raving about psychedelics and thousands of scientific research papers published on the therapeutic promise of LSD.

Acid Dreams mentions stuff about the psychedelic civil war between those following Timothy 'give it to the peasants' Leary, versus Aldous 'give it to the brightest and the best' Huxley. Leary's gang won the argument and so we had the 1960's revolution and the subsequent crackdown by the cardinals of our culture.

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 narcissist 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 is is centred 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!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on the subject!, 17 Jan 2002
By A Customer
The Complete Social History of LSD, the CIA, the '60s, and Beyond
by Martin A. Lee, Bruce Shlain This is colorfully accurate account of the events that occurred decades ago, all of which still echo into our current era. It covers the origin of LSD, as a drug the CIA funded research on for use as a tool for mind control applications using civilians and military personnel as test subjects. At the very outset, it was obvious that the CIA was well aware of the potential power of this substance in its ability to wreak havoc on the collective psyche, to shatter current assumptions and threaten cherished ego boundaries. Yet, eventually it became available to the masses who would come to extol its use religiously and otherwise.....giving rise to the groundswell of counterculture in the 60's. This book, more than any other source explores the underlying causes of the demise of the cultural/political/self re-evolution of that time and gives us pause to reflect on the politics of consciousness - to see who really won The War Of The Mind. Proof again that truth is stranger than fiction. Be informed.........read this book. Very detailed and well researched, with the whole lowdown on Albert Hoffman, Timothy Leary, The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Ken Kesey and all the rest. The stories about CIA & US Army experiments using psychedelics are astonishing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive. Great reporting and refreshingly even-handed!, 6 Sep 1998
By A Customer
Thankfully there are more level-headed souls around to chronicle these heady, swirling mythopoeic days than the curmudgeonly old troll of Aciddom, Art Kleps: The Chief Boo-hoo himself. (Read the review after this for classic Kleps ranting.)
From someone who also lived with Leary-- through Millbrook, Berkeley and The Brotherhood (and makes his living lecturing, writing and consulting on the subject) Martin Lee's and Bruce Shlain's magnum opus is a must for anyone interested in what may prove to be one of the most exciting times in American history and human evolution.
Sure there are minor discrepancies, but given the transcendent nature of the subject matter it's a wonder they got so much right. I find this book to be indispensable. In fact, I am so tired of borrowing and reborrowing it from the library. I am putting in my order right now!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mother Should I Trust the Government?, 10 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Well, Well, Well, so Uncle Sam has some blood on his hands after all. For any good conspiracy buff this is the book: mass testing of LSD on unwitting civilians, cover-up and lies,and atrocities enough to make your teeth chatter that break just about every law the boys in power ever made. Big no-nos on the parts of of our benign government and their secret henchmen the CIA.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good start but gets a bit less useful as it progresses, 10 Sep 2012
By 
A. C. Phipps "Classics fan" (Crowborough, UK) - See all my reviews
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The early parts which detail the CIA's interest in and development of LSD as a possible weapon were revealing and some of the data given illustrates the grisly practice of the infamous psychiatric profession which hopefully will be a museum curiosity piece in the not too far distant future. The story then moves on to how LSD percolated into main stream life and turned into some kind of amazing manna from heaven (instead of a powerful poison which is what it basically is) and how an entire generation was conned into taking it. A thorough research job for the most part although I found the latter part of the book which went into the Haight Ashbury scene not quite so compelling reading as the initial part.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wild ride indeed, 2 Jun 2009
By 
David M. Hart - See all my reviews
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We have here a comprehensive overview of the impact of LSD on American society in the 50s and 60s. One cannot help but be appalled at the callousness and trickery of the CIA people who went around spiking unsuspecting people with acid in their optimistic quest for a truth serum. It's also disappointing to note that the standard medical assumptions about LSD, namely that its effects are merely to produce temporary madness, with no identifiable benefits, came to be used to justify its criminalisation, rather than than any rigorous testing to see whether it was dangerous enough to justify sending those who used it to jail.
Once the drug had inevitably leaked out into the wider population, it appears to have had a powerful catalysing effect on the radicals, protesters and hippies who came to be grouped together as the 'New Left' - not by directly stirring up aggression, but by bringing those who were involved into closer contact with each other and into greater detachment from the rest of society, thus allowing them to have an exaggerated view of their own ability to change the world. I was surprised to learn just how much violence and chaos a minority of acid enthusiasts were able to cause, and just how much utopianism allowed them to justify it.
We are taken through the glory days of Haight-Ashbury, and shown how swiftly the beautiful dream of its original hippie inhabitants turned sour as tourists, gangsters and heavy-handed police took over.

As a social history, the book does not deal in great depth with the biological effects of the drug, nor about its subjective effects on those who use it (though just about everything I've ever read about LSD suggests that the effects are just too weird to be described in words).

One thing that I feel is missing is an assesment of the legal regime that now surrounds acid. The author has scrupulously avoided looking at whether the prohibition of the drug actually makes society safer, or even acts as much of a deterrent to those who would wish to use it. My suspicion is that anyone who writes a book about any one particular drug, as opposed to drugs in general, is likely to be an enthusiast, but I suppose that issue is best left for other books.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A jnightmare the US can never live down., 7 Feb 1997
By A Customer
This book is the definitive source for the stupidity of the CIA and the US government for every using this horible stuff on any US service man or woman. It describes the horror of the damned lying awake all night searching the mind for that one little key that will unlock the psychic. I than the author for giving a little insight into what we went through because of this demon from hell. I am sixty-seven and I still remember the s.o.b. who gave me LSD in my orange juice after I fractured my neck. If authors such as this one had not told about these experiments we would have never known about men who killed themselves because of the horrors this drug released on those of us who offered to give our lives for our country, and instead we had our minds wrecked by something that did not benefit anyone. The US should have to release the results of experiments that caused men to lose their memory, their eyesight, and sometimes their lives. I remember the months at Bethesda that I searched for something to kill myself with.! Never again must a nation be allowed to do such a horrible thing to its military personnel. Luther Butler, 1310 Wildwood, Stephenville, Tx. 76401 lbutler@texinet.net
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whatever happened to Owsley?, 20 Aug 1997
By A Customer
I read this book six or so years ago, and still remember it well. I was most amazed by the fact that once LSD got into the hands of the counterculture, it changed from a possible mind-control device to an instrument with just the opposite effect. Well written, and plenty of facts and great profiles of the major players in the story. And whatever happened to Owsley?
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 11 Aug 2009
Even though I haven't yet completed this book, I'm compelled to give it a five. Having been acquainted with the substance in question, it's fascinating to look back at its amazing story.
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