Book Reviews

Can’t Find My Way Home America in the Great Stoned Age 1945-2000 by Martin Torgoff



429701What da cover says:  From the narcotic allure of the bebop and Beat generations to the psychedelic 1960s, Vietnam, the cocaine-fueled disco era, the crack epidemic, and the ecstasy-induced rave culture, illegal drugs have profoundly shaped America’s cultural landscape. In Can’t Find My Way Home, journalist and filmmaker Martin Torgoff chronicles what a long strange trip it’s been as the American Century became the Great Stoned Age.

Weaving together first-person accounts and historical background, Can’t Find My Way Home is a narrative vast in scope yet rich in intimate detail. Torgoff tells the stories of those whose lives became synonymous with the drug culture, from Charlie Parker, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, and John Belushi to ordinary people who felt their consciousness “expanded” or who plumbed the depths of addiction. He also examines the broader impact of drugs on society and politics, from the war on drugs to the recovery movement, and the continuing debate over drug policy. A vivid work of cultural history that neither demonizes nor romanticizes its subject, Can’t Find My Way Home is a provocative and fascinating look at how drugs have entered the American mainstream.

What I says:  This has to be one of the best history books I’ve ever read, I never expected it to be such an interesting read.  I’ve never taken drugs and have never had any interest in doing so, but somehow this book made it on to my reading list and I’m so glad it did.  This book hasn’t been written by a doctor or a scientist, it hasn’t been written by somebody who is pro or anti drugs, it has been written by somebody who has lived with drugs, reached rock bottom and made it out to the other side.

This subject is a tricky one to keep balanced, it could so easily fall into a rant about drugs and those who take them or it could end up being a “romance” book about how cool drugs are.  Torgoff comes across as being on the fence, some drugs are bad and some are good, we should be given the choice if we want to experiment.

This is written in chronological order, starting with the Jazz musicians of the 40’s, moving on to the Beatniks and hippies, then we get the government waking up and many many arrests are made.  The media joins in the madness and start doing what they do best, lying and scaremongering. This is the point where we are now and what we know about drugs, that they are bad, gangs will kill you because of them, every single kid in school takes drugs, 100,000’s of babies are born each year addicted to some drug or other.  Nobody really looks at the facts, guns, cars, booze and cigarettes kill more people a year and aren’t illegal.  The US government spends 10’s of billion dollars a year fighting drugs with zero impact, money that could be spent on rehab, education, creating a safe space for people to partake in some of the safer drugs which could be taxed.  This book could easily make you start ranting and raving.

I’ve learnt a lot of things on this subject, been inspired to read books by other authors  and to also listen to music by those who experimented.

Give this fantastic book a go and find out just how much drugs have an impact on how the world is today.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s