Good book about the early days of the drugs war,
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This review is from: Agency of Fear: Opiates and Political Power in America (REV) (Paperback)
Edward Jay Epstein's book is a journalistic retelling of the beginning of the American `War on Drugs' that was launched by President Nixon and got hot during Ronald Reagan's time at the White House. The book is also something more interesting than that, and recasts the drugs policy of the 1970s as an elaborate power grab within the Nixon administration to rest power from state organizations and into the hands of Nixon's cronies. The efforts of the White House to break federal power are also shown as part of the piratical attitude that led to the Watergate break-in.
Epstein seems to have done a good job of interviewing people relevant to the Nixon regime (some were obviously in jail at the time, so couldn't be interviewed); the author tells a very convincing story. The chapters of the book dealing with American foreign policy are amongst the best: France, Mexico, Turkey, all shown to be derailed in colourful ways by departmental in-fighting and Nixon's megalomania. The other best bits are to do with some of the principal `characters', particularly G. Gordon Liddy who comes across as some sort of `In the Loop' character cut out of the script for being too transparently evil. The creative use of government stats by various officials is also nice to see, as it's still going on.
Overall this is a good book, well worth the time. It illustrates a neglected piece of American history and is a good story in its own right, full of nuance and good characters. More `Edge of Darkness' than `French Connection'.
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