Reefer Madness

Reefer Madness : ...and Other Tales from the American Underground

By (author) Eric Schlosser

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From the author of Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness: and Other Tales from the American Underground follows the money to uncover made the country rich: porn, pot and exploitation. In three linked essays, Eric Schlosser uncovers how dirty dealings and secret vices are part of a global black market on which we all depend. Reefer Madness traces the history of the contemporary 'war on drugs' from its origins in Reagan's social conservatism through to its profound impact on civil society, creating a justice system that punishes marijuana offences more harshly than rape and murder. An Empire of the Obscene tells the story of Reuben Sturman, the billionaire 'Walt Disney of porn' who most effectively exploited economies of scale to create a business that now saturates America and the world with graphic sexual imagery. In the Strawberry Fields shows how public demand for a soft red fruit is causing mass migration from Central America and changing California's political economy forever. "An amazing secret history of America's favourite vices". (Independent). "A shocking journey through the underside of the world's mightiest economy". (The Times). "Schlosser tells us things we already suspect to be true, but don't dare think about". (Daily Telegraph). "Superb ...mind-blowing ...quite simply the non-fiction book of the year". (The List). Eric Schlosser is an author and investigative journalist based in New York. His first book, Fast Food Nation, was a major international bestseller. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone and the Guardian.

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  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 20mm | 240.41g
  • 26 Feb 2004
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London
  • English
  • 0141010762
  • 9780141010762
  • 510,668

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Author Information

Eric Schlosser is an author and investigative journalist based in New York. His first book, FAST FOOD NATION, was a major international bestseller (Allen Lane, 2001). His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone and the Guardian.

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Review quote

"Reefer Madness is earnest, impassioned, and assiduously researched."

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Review text

From Eric Schlosser, bestselling author of Fast Food Nation, this is an absolutely riveting account of the workings of America's underground economy. Taking three case studies, 'Reefer Madness', 'Strawberry Fields' and 'An Empire of the Obscene', Schlosser exposes the ludicrous legal, economic and moral contradictions that arise when government legislation on drug control, labour relations and obscenity is a piecemeal and opportunistic response to protecting the liberties, incomes and prejudices of affluent, conservative, white, Americans. Focusing by turn on the US's massive homegrown marijuana industry, the dependence of Californian fruit farmers on illegal immigrant labour, and the growth of the modern sex industry, Schlosser combines historical research with interview testimony in a swingeing critique of the causes and consequences of America's vast subterranean economy. Highlighting the fact that most of its growth has occurred in the past 30 years, he argues that this illegal economic activity is a crucial support for more mainstream markets. For example, he claims that the US dollar is the unofficial currency of the global underground economy and that three-quarters of all $100 bills circulate outside their country of origin, amounting to a gigantic interest-free loan to the US treasury. Schlosser's skilful combination of well-chosen facts and figures with moving and balanced insights into the lives of individuals caught up in the contemporary serfdom of migrant labour or within the bizarrely inconsistent federal system of sentencing for drug-related offences is guaranteed to stir his reader to react. Read this book and you will probably feel compelled to recite selected passages aloud to friends in a tone of outrage. Indeed, Schlosser specifically invites Americans to reconsider their dearly held beliefs on life, liberty and the pursuit of property. For readers outside the US it is a compelling insight into the shadowy depths of the richest nation in the world. (Kirkus UK)

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