Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

Johann Hari

Language: English

Pages: 400

ISBN: 1620408910

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.

In Chasing the Scream, Hari reveals his discoveries entirely through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. They range from a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn searching for her mother, to a teenage hit-man in Mexico searching for a way out. It begins with Hari's discovery that at the birth of the drug war, Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the man who launched this crusade--and it ends with the story of a brave doctor who has led his country to decriminalize every drug, from cannabis to crack, with remarkable results.

Chasing the Scream lays bare what we really have been chasing in our century of drug war--in our hunger for drugs, and in our attempt to destroy them. This book will challenge and change how you think about one of the most controversial--and consequential--questions of our time.

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His conversation was rambling. Victor said that his mother was very top-heavy, like Chino. He said his two sons had died in a plane crash. He seemed half crazy. Chino explained: “From the way he approached me, it’s almost like we had a relationship,” like he knew him, like they had been talking all along. Chino didn’t want to know. He walked away. A few years later, somebody told him Victor had died. He didn’t go to the funeral. But for Chino, in East Flatbush at fifteen, he was discovering newer and bolder crimes.

Ain’t got to worry about people kicking in the door because there’s a guy with a gun at the door. ” Marcia’s man in the Angels was a much older guy called Conrad Kurz, who “was kind of strict to her. He was a Nazi . . . a full-fledged Nazi. ” His home was filled with swastikas and Hitlerian flags. He “kept a pretty good leash on her,” Richard says, until they had a baby girl, Eureka, and the baby was taken away by the authorities in Arizona, presumably because Marcia had developed a drug addiction. Conrad couldn’t take the loss of his child.

Hardin “Ma. ” Every now and then, he was taken to a strange place to see Deborah. He saw only that she was a short, wiry woman who wore men’s clothes and had a smile just like Chino’s. Deborah, he says later, “was my biological mother [and] only in that sense. ” Some part of Deborah never forgot her child, and longed for him. One day, she turned up in Flatbush and took the toddler Chino away by the hand, so he could be hers, for once. They hid out for days, not telling anyone where they were. It was a motel.

4 Her husband ran down the stairs and gave the boy a set of hurried instructions: Take my horse and cart into the town as fast as you can. Pick up a package from the pharmacy. Bring it here. Do it now. The boy lashed at the horses, because he was certain that if he failed, he would return to find a corpse. As soon as he flopped through the door and handed over the bag of drugs, the farmer ran to his wife. Her screaming stopped, and she was calm. But the boy would not be calm about this—not ever again.

We’re all producing the same stuff. ” Indeed, he continues, “the experience you have in orgasm is partially chemical—it’s a drug. So people deny they want this? Come on! . . . It’s fun. It’s enjoyable. And it’s chemical. That’s intoxication. ” He seems for a moment to think back over all the animals guzzling drugs he has watched over all these years. “I don’t see,” he says, “any difference in where the chemical came from. ” This is in us. It is in our brains. It is part of who we are. But this leaves us with another mystery.

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