High Society: The Central Role of Mind-Altering Drugs in History, Science and Culture by Mike Jay

High Society:  The Central Role of Mind-Altering Drugs in History, Science and Culture
Mike Jay
Park Street Press (2010)
ISBN 9781594773938
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (11/10)


There is a myth in our society that it’s only been in the last 40 or so years that mind-altering drugs have entered our existence.  Granted, because of the fast-paced lives, the globe getting smaller, and our knowledge greater, it would seem that we are more exposed to it now than in the previous decades or centuries.

In “High Society” Mike Jay exposes us to historical facts that mind-altering drugs have been around in different cultures and societies much longer than most of us realize. He delves into uses of drugs, often derived from potent herbs and originally used as medicine. Further, he touches on drugs being used in religious sacraments and as desirable trade goods.  These goods were in the form of tobacco, tea and opium.  So, when you hear someone say “What is this world coming to with such a huge influx of drugs now-a-days?” know that the “now-a-days” have been around much longer than just the present.

Along with historical and scientific facts, Jay proves his points through photographs of artifacts, art, and advertising plates.  The collection depicts that mind-altering substances were discovered and used since man has been around. Jay’s data spans across various cultures, is well documented and presented in a concise manner that any lay-person can understand.

“High Society” made me sit back and think of how our society is reacting regarding the border wars influenced by drug moguls.  Since the prohibition of opium and cocaine over a hundred years ago the tenseness has escalated to a point of no control.

I encourage you to read “High Society” to get a different perspective; one of research and historical facts before making a decision of what side you are taking.  This is a good read and a good knowledge base for further contemplation and personal research.

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