“This is your brain.” Holds up egg.
“This is your brain on drugs.” Cracks egg into hot frying pan where it sizzles.
Remember that commercial? If you’re a person of a certain age, you do. But, has anything changed since then?
Enter award-winning journalist Johann Hari and his first book, CHASING THE SCREAM—a multistrand examination of the war on drugs, spanning 100 years from inception to the present day.
Blending sociology, history and reportage with novelistic detail, Hari uses the narratives of the first American drug czar Harry Anslinger, jazz singer and addict Billie Holiday, and drug-dealing gangster Arnold Rothstein as archetypes to point out how the drug war continually perpetuates itself with shocking intensity and contradiction. Dividing his book neatly into five parts, each with its own subsections, Hari concisely lays out the history and long-term effects of the war on drugs with both depth and precision, and ends by examining alternate ways drug use and drug addiction are being dealt with, the new and growing science that shows that everything we thought we knew about drugs may be wrong, and how there is hope for a new understanding of drug use in the future.
Although it was published in January, CHASING THE SCREAM is selling well and receiving lots of media attention. Last month it spent two consecutive weeks on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction Extended Bestseller List, reaching a high of #17! Hari was interviewed on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” and was covered in Vanity Fair‘s “Hot Type” and the New York Times Book Review:
“Hari’s empathy and keen eye for detail bring a disparate group of characters to life, including a former drug dealer and gang leader from Brooklyn transitioning from living as a woman to living as a man, and a teenager in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, who dresses up as an angel to highlight the savage butchery that has made that border city one of the most dangerous places on earth.” — New York Times Book Review
“Hari has made a stimulating hybrid of a book—simultaneously a readable history of the war on drugs and a powerful case for radical reform.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“It is one of the few glimmers of hope, alongside movements to legalize marijuana, in a worldwide war whose fight should not be against drugs but for humanity in general. A compassionate and humane argument to overturn draconian drug policies.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“[Hari] portrays everyone with empathy, from drug dealers to drug addicts, law enforcement personnel, and civilians caught in the middle of this war, which, along with the first-person narration, helps to keep the narrative engaging…” — Booklist
CHASING THE SCREAM is available now from Bloomsbury USA.