Saturday, February 24, 2007

Reefer Madness

Reefer Madness, by Eric Schlosser
$11.70 at ISBN: 0618446702
Eric is an investigative reporter more famous for his first book, Fast Food Nation, on the hamburger business. This book is just as interesting, and involves three separate topics: marijuana, migrant laborers, and pornography. With the introduction the book is a collection of essays on the black market economy in America, and sheds some light on our vices, how we get them, and how we resist other people using them. It's non-fiction, but very easy to read and so interesting! Full of stunning facts and surprising revelations. For example can you believe more than 10% of the money in this country is spent on "illegal" products and services?
It all begins with marijuana, illegal in the US since the 1920s, there are now almost 50,000 people incarcerated primarily due to possession of this plant. Schlosser gives you the sweeping story of Americans and pot from every angle. First he describes the plant and its affects, and goes on to interview pot farmers with vast, secret, underground growing facilities; cancer patients who use the drug for pain relief, activists trying to legalize the drug, and the DEA agents who hunt and prosecute the offenders. Where exactly does America's supply of marijuana come from, and who's buying it? Whether or not you're a user, the arms race between the purveyors and the feds makes fascinating reading. Considering pot is non-addictive and has been used since ancient times without a single case of anyone overdosing, Schlosser's point quickly becomes clear: that America's "War on Drugs" is overwhelmingly unjust and in need of reform. Not convinced? Check out the details for yourself.
The other essays are interesting in their own way. Immigrants who sneak in from Mexico and Latin America to pick fruit are illegal yet, unbelievably, critical to the US economy. The story of how pornography became legal (thus ensuring the future success of the internet) is told through the life of one early entrepreneur who set up some of the country's first peep shows, dirty magazines, and adult theaters. This early champion of personal rights and free speech became the model for all the web-based smut we enjoy today.
Overall, this book comes highly recommended! It's a breeze to get into, and has managed to make what is useful to know interesting. Experienced readers should be able to finish it in a couple of days, while less ambitious pot-heads should be able to glean a few impressive facts from the first chapter to pass on while handing off the bong. Learn about the seedy underbelly of the US economy and who lives there from a great piece of easy non-fiction that's lively and relevant.

1 comment:

about a boy said...

i really enjoyed this book. i read it when it first came out. thought it was well done.