Flowers in the Blood

  • by Jeff Goldberg, Dean Latimer, William Burroughs (introduction)
  • Narrated by Stephen McLaughlin
  • 12 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The incredible and complex history of opium throughout the world.
Opium has played a dramatic and varied role in human history, inspiring religious veneration, scientific exploration, the bitterest rancor, and the most fanciful ecstasy. Now, authors Jeff Goldberg and Dean Latimer have provided a complete, insightful history of opium. Flowers in the Blood lifts the veil of mystery that has surrounded opium down through the ages.
Inside, discover:

Why a three-thousand-year-old statue of a Greek goddess was crowned with poppies
The formulas for Hippocrates’s ancient opium remedies
Why the Islamic councils of the wise vilified hashish but venerated opium
Why there was no opium problem in nineteenth-century England and America despite unprecedented and unrestricted consumption of opiates
What really provoked the Opium Wars in China
Why John Jacob Astor quit the opium trade
The unique role played by Chinese opium in the birth of the American labor movement
Along the way, the authors provide details of the addictions of S. T. Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey, and other literary opium-eaters of the nineteenth century, as well as chronicling the progress of antidrug laws and the ongoing search for an addiction cure.
Originally published in 1981, this edition of Flowers in the Blood has been updated with a new preface by Goldberg. At times disconcerting, raising serious questions about attitudes and approaches toward powerful drugs and their control, Flowers in the Blood is an essential addition to the literature of opium, and a wide-awake look at the stuff that dreams (and nightmares) are made of.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


Published in 1981, “Flowers in the Blood” argues for decriminalization of opiates. The idea remains controversial in 2014. Written by Jeff Goldberg and Dean Latimer, a listener feels misdirected by historical information.

Goldberg and Latimer explain that punishing the addicted with prison is a mistake. Those who succumb to addiction need help; not punishment. One can readily accept that argument but opiate regulation by the government is a step too far. This may be a distinction without a difference but Alcohol and cigarettes are still a private sector choice with government intervention (principally tax increases and education) based on political input.

The loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman in February 2014 comes to mind. Hoffman dies at the age of 46, John Belushi at 33, Kurt Cobain at 27, Billie Holiday at 44, River Phoenix at 23; all from opiate overdoses. If opiates were legalized, would these artists have been saved—who knows? They chose addiction to escape the insecurity and stress of life. Their choice is their choice. Insecurity and stress are facts in every human’s life. America’s failure is related to treatment; not government control of human choice.

“Flowers in the Blood” fails to nuance legalization of opiates. It leans more toward influencing uneducated poor, educated middle class, and idle rich to experiment with addictive drugs.
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Historical Illumination

What made the experience of listening to Flowers in the Blood the most enjoyable?

This deepened my knowledge of the oft- taboo subject of the opium poppy with its associated travails, successes against pain and sociological plunders across the ages. The author(s) weave a fascinating account of exactly how imbedded this uncommon flower and its byproducts have been in humanity's development, from Asia to Europe, and across the railroad-tracked plains of North America, then into our modern cities and ultimately into our legal system. The story seems to come to a halt in the 1970s, so in my view what is lacking is a chapter or two filling the audience in on developments into the 21st century.

What other book might you compare Flowers in the Blood to and why?


What about Stephen McLaughlin’s performance did you like?

Crisp, not-too-fast pace well-suited for listening in fast track mode when review was needed.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No- my emotions don't tend to run away when listening to historical, semi-scientific subject matters, though the book never ceased to be eminently entertaining.

Any additional comments?

Three cheers for an update to bring this landmark work up to the present year of 2014.

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- Richard

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-14-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios