White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg

Peter Conners, City Lights, $16.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-87286-535-8
In 1960, Allen Ginsberg, high on William Blake and the resounding success of his epic poem, Howl, met Timothy Leary, the new Harvard psychologist eager to convince the world that getting high on psychedelic drugs could soothe the savage beast in the human heart. Conners (Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead) splendidly brings these two mavericks back to life as he chronicles that first meeting at Leary's house and traces their growing bond as they built the bridges between the "holy trinity" (Albert Hofmann, the father of psychedelics; Aldous Huxley; and William Blake) of visionary consciousness expansion and the 1960s psychedelic movement. Along the way, we glimpse all the familiar faces of the 1960s psychedelic era—Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, who conducted their own acid tests; Jack Kerouac; William Burroughs; and Neal Cassady, among others. As Conners keenly observes, Ginsberg gave Leary entrée to the influential world of artistic America, and Leary gave Ginsberg an opportunity to expose America to powerful hallucinatory visions. Conners records Ginsberg and Leary's long, strange trip, from their earliest experiments with psilocybin to their deaths in the late 1990s. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/11/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
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