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on 20 November 2013
This is a fairly easy if disquieting read. Readers should be warned that it is in fact 3 long essays but while the subject matter is different in each case, Marijuana, Pornography and Illegal Immigrants all in the US from a US perspective they are utterly gripping. As an interested party to what goes on in the US the revelations of the contradictions that lie at the heart of much that is the US leaves you wondering how the US ever managed to be so successful? I find it comical that the GOP which is so anti illegals and so pro Adam Smith can miss the fact that Illegals are in fact the most tangible demonstration of Smith's Law of Comparative Advantage? For anyone interested in the US, warts and all, this book is a must read, a genuine look under the covers from somewhere under the tyre and over the asphalt.
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on 19 January 2005
Don't be freaked by the title. This is an excellently researched and documented book about some aspects of American life : marijuana laws, pornography and cheap Mexican labour in the southern states...
I find the way of writing thouroughly enjoyable and appreciate the author's point of view on some of these subjects - the hypocrisy that pervades. Indeed, how is it possible that, in some US states a convicted murderer will remain six years in jail while a person possessing limited quantities of marijuana (but caught for the third time : "Three strikes and you're out!") will be in prison for life ? Why does the US government claim to want to boot out the Mexican farmers of the South on the basis that "they are taking our jobs" when, clearly they bring a lot of riches to the country while receiving none themselves ? Perhaps this is the most moving chapter of the book... The description of the way in which these Mexican immigrants have to live is deeply shocking.
A great book.
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on 8 June 2004
The book is split into 3 essays each dealing with a different topic.
The first essay concerns the unjust American laws concerning marijuana and mandatory minimum sentances. The second deals with the exploitation of illegal immigrants in the strawberry fields of california. The third and final essay deals with the porn industry and how the American government attempts to hide its own freedom of press laws.
I found the first essay the most interesting, however all three were shocking in their own rights. If you have read the others other book - 'Fast Food Nation' i would recommend this book, if you have not, i'd recommend reading that first!
As a whole i thought the book was very interesting reassuring my beliefs that, while America is a nice place to visit, you wouldnt wanna live there!
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on 14 September 2006
Having read 'Fast Food Nation' (FFN) when it first came out and enjoyed knowing all about what is wrong with the fast food industry I knew 'Reefer Madness' was a very similar book just from reading its back cover.

There are three totally self-contained chapters on the subjects of the commerce and consumption of marijuana, migrant and immigrant workers in California's fruit picking industry and the production and consumption of pornography.

And I was not disappointed. 'Reefer Madness' succintly exposes some idiosyncrasies in American society with the same coolness, wit and depth of FFN. Each chapter traces out a short history of the subject, which in the case of Marijuana goes back to just after the independence, in 1776. Schlosser keeps a very cool head and includes the odd fun fact that will make you laugh inside. He doesn't come out explicitly for one side of the discussion (which inevitably there is) until the very last chapter, where he wraps everything up. Until then, the only clue about Schlosser's opinion lies in the fact that he sometimes uses irony (but never sarchasm) to describe the actions of someone he either feels sorry for or totally disagrees with and that he always treats extremely fairly the people and views that he seems to be supporting. Which is more than understanding.

If your political background is more on the right/conservative side you will be relieved to hear that the author, although siding with the left side of the spectrum on these same issues, writes in a very impartial, reasoned and informed way. So please don't dismiss the author and the book as 'something written by a leftie': besides being out of fashion these days, that kind of thinking will only lead you to closing up your eyes to some of the most stupid and thoughtless contradictions in USA's society, a society which still manages to exhert considerable influence over the rest of the world. If, however, like me, you think it's ridiculous that the possession of a pound of weed should make you spend the rest of your life in jail while many murders and rapes don't, you should definitely read this book.
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The author seems to have gone out of his way to make this a discourse on the past and current state of play on just 3 topics of interest (marihuana, illegal immigrants and the porn trade). Fortunately he avoids getting sucked into the razzle dazzle typically associated with books of this type.
The book is highly informative and thought provoking.
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on 14 May 2003
Reefer Madness is Eric Schlossers 2nd attempt to inflict upon the public the wrongdoings and injustices of American society and the Justice department. It follows his previously best selling book Fast Food Nation.
Unfortunately this book did not live up to expectation, his short essays (on pornography, immigrant workers and cannabis) only scratch the surface on what is a massive subject. Rather than interviewing people currently involved in these underground industries, he tends to spend a lot of time on the historical background of the cases, rather than the present.
This is not a bad book though, he demolishes the reasons for keeping cannabis illegal, and extols the virtues of some illegal immigration. lots of interesting facts are given, and case studies provided of certain individuals like Mark Young and Reuban Sturmer overall make an interesting and informative book.
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on 15 August 2014
Not as interesting or compelling as Fast Food Nation, but worth a read
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on 28 May 2003
The issues of Marijuana, Strawberry Pickers and Porn industry are the double standards in American Politics. Eric does a wonderful job at explaining this in his essays. I am an avid follower of these issues, and found the book enlightening. I have a certain understanding of the Marijuana and Illegal Immigrant exploitation issues, but, the porn industry story is the most interesting part of the book, as I was totally unaware of its influence and the political bickering related to it. Great job on the book Eric.
As for the prospective readers, if you are not interested the above mentioned issues, there is better fiction around.
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on 22 February 2015
Somewhat interesting, rather left leaning and I struggled to see the direction the author was going on. Yes, a select few people get rich from the sweat of the many. Yes, people get treated like crap when labour laws are lax. Yes, you are being lied to. Schlosser has talent I think, but this book doesn't show him in his best light.
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on 29 May 2003
Conspiracy theory books such as Reefer Madness and Tales from the Underground are audacious and their sensitive subject matter needs careful research and a coherent argument.
Eric Schlosser's most recent publication is no different. Its lucidly written but jammed packed with facts, figures and accounts.
It looks at the Three Pillars of Underground activity in the US: Drugs, Illegal immigrants and Porn and how they contribute to the countries wealth and power.
It's a very interesting book with some wild theories and interesting examples but it seems too audacious a subject matter to argue any point as successfully as No Logo did.
Like Fast Food Nation theres a real feeling of hopelessness and that there's little that can be done. Schlossers research and well structured nature of the argurmtn makes you interested enough to find out more until you realise that Schlosser himself is resigned to defeat rather than inspired change.
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