Storming Heaven

Toolan, David

IN BRIEF Storming Heaven: LSD and the AMERICAN DREAM. By Jay Stevens. Atlantic Monthly Press, $19.95, 396 pp. Perhaps the subject (or the bookcover's melting face) may turn you off. Don't...

...Stevens takes you behind the sensationalist press reports of the era to the Daedalus-Icarus replay that this story is...
...The author sharpens the edge on all those urgent questions left hanging when psychedelic experimentation was abruptly halted in 1965/66 (e.g., regarding therapeutic uses, the permanency of personality change, and the validity of chemically induced religious experience...
...He tells it brilliantly, dramatically, and with just the right mix of skepticism and appreciation...
...Jay Stevens proves himself a superb social histo605 rian with a ripping good story to tell...
...D.T...
...Don't let that happen...
...there when in the early fifties Aldous Huxley, Gerald Heard, and Alan Watts "turned on" to mind-altering drugs...
...Stevens provides pointed analyses of the era's cultural currents, the politics of the consciousness movement (elitists vs...
...Some Daedaluses survive...
...badly needed to be written...
...there, in the early sixties at Harvard, Cuernavaca, and the Hitchcock mansion in Millbrook, New York for Timothy Leary's psilocybin and LSD binges...
...I guarantee it will rearrange many of your judgments of the psychedelic movement and its significance for understanding what a mystery we human beings are...
...If you are at all intrigued by the madness of the sixties in America, treat yourself to the pleasure of reading this book...
...A first-rate, judicious job at a book that, given all the misinformation (e.g., LSD provokes psychosis, damages chromosomes, etc...
...there at the Six Gallery in 1955 for Allen Ginsberg's first recital of Howl...
...and there in California, 1965/66, for Ken Kesey's "kool-aid acid tests" for the masses...
...democratic populists), and fascinating background history that allows you to countextualize supporting cast and the principal tragi-comic wizards...
...You feel you are there in 1943 when Albert Hoffmann, a Swiss chemist, first synthesized LSD-25...
...In his epilogue, Stevens tells us that the story is far from over...
...Truth being stranger than fiction, even G. Gordon Liddy breaks into the act...
...there in 1956 when the CIA started spying on banker Gordon Wasson's hunt for hallucinogenic Mexican mushrooms...

Vol. 114 • October 1987 • No. 18


 
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