Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World

Nicholas Schou, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $24.99 (306p) ISBN 978-0-312-55183-4

Drug dealers with delusions of grandeur populate this colorful but overwrought history of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a 1960s-era narcotics ring–cum–hippie “church.” Influenced by psychedelic prophet Timothy Leary—who called the group's leader, former high school bully John Griggs, the “holiest man” in America—the California-based Brotherhood styled its cheap, extra-strength “Orange Sunshine” brand of LSD as a pathway to God. Journalist Schou (Kill the Messenger ) takes the “spiritual purpose” of these “psychedelic warriors,” along with their solemn acid-dropping sacraments and utopian pipe dreams, rather too seriously. (He likewise inflates their sporadic ventures scoring Mexican marijuana and Afghan hashish into a “global smuggling empire.”) His narrative quickly devolves into a haphazard picaresque of drug deals, drug busts, overdoses, surfing, rock concerts (Jimi Hendrix does a cameo), orgies, and people living in teepees. Schou sometimes forgets that reading about other people's acid trips—“The whole sky took on huge forms of dancing Buddhas and the energy got really bright”—is a drag. Still, the mixture of lively freakery and stoned pomposity gives his portrait of countercultural excess an authentic period feel. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 11/30/2009
Release date: 03/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 306 pages - 978-0-312-60717-3
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-9666-2
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