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Essential Substances
A Cultural History of Intoxicants in Society
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Author(s) :
Richard Rudgley
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Edition(s) at Erowid :
Publisher :
Kodansha America Inc.
paperback : 1568360754
From opium in stone-age caves to crack on our own streets, intoxicants have always played a significant role in society. In this widely acclaimed look at drugs through history, Richard Ridgley shows how our attitudes toward these substances have been shaped, and how our own use of intoxicants, such as alcohol and coffee, is aprt of the age-old quest for altered states.

Rudgley cogently shows how the significance of these substances -- from peyote in the Americas, qat in Africa, and betel in Southeast Asia, to hallucinogens like LSD and marijuana, and stimulants like cocoa, coffee, and tea -- extends beyond simple pleasure to the economic, political, and sexual life of the community. In the process, he challenges our assumptions that deem certain intoxicants socially and legally acceptable while others remain taboo.

"Tales of Neolithic cavemen going graffiti mad on opium [and] urine-drinking siberian mushroom eaters . . . make the activities of present-day rock 'n rollers look thoroughly timid. A hugely illuminating educational trip."
-- Roger Morton, New Musical Express

"A splendid contribution to the new wave of scholarship that is forcing a different approach to our ages-old fascination with hallucinogenic plants and altered states."
-- Terence McKenna, author of True Hallucinations

"Destined to have a tremendous effect on how future writings treat the history and contemporary use of drugs . . . the book is a masterpiece."
-- Richard Evans Schultes, Harvard University, Author of Plants of the Gods

"Fascinating . . . this book will help to illuminate our own arbitrary and confused attitudes."
-- Hanif Kureishi, author of The Buddha of Suburbia

Richard Rudgley is an anthropologist at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. He is currently writing a cultural history of shamanism.