Acid Dreams

  • by Martin A. Lee, Bruce Shlain
  • Narrated by Oliver Wyman
  • 14 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Few events have had a more profound impact on the social and cultural upheavals of the Sixties than the psychedelic revolution spawned by the spread of LSD. This audiobook for the first time tells the full and astounding story - part of it hidden till now in secret Government files - of the role the mind-altering drug played in our recent turbulent history and the continuing influence it has on our time. And what a story it is, beginning with LSD’s discovery in 1943 as the most potent drug known to science until it spilled into public view some 20 years later to set the stage for one of the great ideological wars of the decade. In the intervening years the CIA had launched a massive covert research program in the hope that LSD would serve as an espionage weapon, psychiatric pioneers came to believe that acid would shed light on the perplexing problems of mental illness, and a new generation of writers and artists had given birth to the LSD sub-culture. Acid Dreams is a complete social history of the psychedelic counter-culture that burst into full view in the Sixties. With new information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the authors reveal how the CIA became obsessed with LSD during the Cold War, fearing the Soviets had designs on it as well. What follows is one of the more bizarre episodes in the covert history of U.S. intelligence as the search for a "truth drug” began to resemble a James Bond scenario in which agents spied on drug-addicted prostitutes through two-way mirrors and countless unwitting citizens received acid with sometimes tragic results.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Enjoyable but unstructured

I really enjoyed this book - so much so that I want listen to it again, and soon. Having said that, it didn't deliver what I expected, especially given that I understand it's primarily regarded as a textbook. I thought it would focus on the development and dissemination of LSD, and it certainly started that way, but somewhere after the first third of the book, it became more and more an account of some key events of the late 60s and early 70s and a (selective) look at some of the personalities of that time. (I know it describes itself as a 'social history', but I still expected there to be a greater focus on the drug itself.) I liked the narrative turn, but unfortunately it felt pretty unstructured from this point: another reviewer described it as 'kaleidoscopic' - it certainly could be dis-orienting at times, as the authors focussed on one social movement or one personality, then circled back (in time) to follow another, rather than showing how these events and individuals interacted or influenced one another. I also hoped for more of a discussion about the development of the drug itself as manufacturing expanded, and the experience of users: it is clear that there is a wealth of evidence from the (then-legal) use of the drug in therapy, in government and defence contexts, and in personal journals, but the authors barely touch on this area.

Also, was it my imagination, or did the narrator change suddenly, towards the end (and then the original narrator returned)?! The narrator/s were good. The treatment of footnotes was a little odd: the footnotes seemed to be read at exactly the point they appeared in the original text, resulting in some strange diversions in already complex narratives! It would have been better to have treated them as endnotes, or at least to finish the sentence to which they related before reading the footnote in!

These negatives aside, if you are prepared to approach this book as more of a historical (though not linear) narrative of the 1960s and early 70s, albeit with a selective focus, constructed around the thread of LSD - rather than a concentrated consideration of the drug itself - then I am sure you will find plenty to keep your interest.
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- Miriam

Mind. Blown.

You may THINK you know all about the CIA and its LSD experiments on soldiers and civilians— but you don’t know the half of it.

Thought the hippies came up with the phrase “trip?” No— it was the military. The CIA was OBSESSED in the Cold War idea of a truth serum, convinced the Soviets had their own, but their experiments went way further. Their perversion will astound you: force-fed acid trips, doses there was no way to come back from, secrets and lies.

"Acid Dreams" is a thorough and serious book, but it’s full of juicy details and the kind of improbable stories that turn history into entertainment.

There have been other books about LSD after this, but nothing has surpassed this gem. It should have been on audio long ago. Tune in and turn on!
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- Susie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-13-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios