Magazine September 21, 2009, Issue

Dazed and Confuzed

Injectable drugs inside an injection room at a hospital (Aly Song/Reuters)
This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America, by Ryan Grim (Wiley, 272 pp., $24.95)

The drug question divides the Right. Libertarians thunder against the prosecution of victimless crimes, while traditional conservatives fear the character-corroding effects of heroin or even pot. But surely all can agree that the drug wars are a study in government incompetence.

Ryan Grim, who frequently breaks away from the topic of drugs in America to discuss the drugs in his bloodstream, makes a largely persuasive case that Americans have always loved drugs (though fashion and policy influence the popularity of this or that substance), that public-service campaigns (such as the fried-egg warning that he sends up in his title) exert little

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