“Chasing the Scream”: The Drug War and its racist policies revealed

“Chasing the Scream”: The Beginning and End of the Drug War

Saturday, 21 February 2015 11:30 By Eleanor J. Bader, Truthout | Book Review

 Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, by Johann Hari, Bloomsbury(Photo: Bloomsbury USA)   (Photo: Bloomsbury USA)

More than 100 years ago, the US launched what became known as the War on Drugs, a relentless, if futile, campaign to convince Americans – and later the rest of the world – to “Just say no.” The history of that war is the subject of Johann Hari’s fascinating and compelling Chasing the Scream, an important analysis of the whys and wherefores of this colossal waste of energy, time and money.

Hari introduces several characters that serve as archetypes to tell the tale: Harry Anslinger, the law enforcer; Arnold Rothstein, the dealer and profiteer; and Billie Holiday, the addict.

“When Harry and Arnold and Billie were born [at the end of the   19th and early 20th centuries, respectively], drugs were freely available throughout the world,” he writes. “You could go to any American pharmacy and buy products made from the same ingredients as heroin and cocaine.
The most popular cough mixtures in the United States contained opiates, a new soft drink called Coca Cola was made from the same plant as snortable cocaine, and over in Britain, the classiest department stores sold heroin for society women.”  [Read more]

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