Dope Menace: The Sensational World of Drug Paperbacks, 1900-1975

Stephen J. Gertz, Author Feral House $24.95 (219p) ISBN 978-1-932595-34-5
Treasured today mainly for their kitsch value, circulation of pulp paperbacks in the 1950s and '60s reached more than 228 million, according to historian, writer and ""antiquarian bookseller"" Gertz. Though drug-themed novels and addiction memoirs had been around since the turn of the century, they didn't catch on until the '50s when, ironically, U.S. drug use was at a low. That all changed with the advent of LSD, which gave pulp writers something really to write about in books like LSD Orgy, Acid Party and The Splintered Man (a spy thriller published while the CIA's LSD research was still classified). Content varied wildly, and more than a few books failed to live up to their lurid covers (examples of which grace almost every page), but a handful were important-the best-known being William Burroughs' Junkie. Other vital examples include Memoirs of a Beatnik, No Man Stands Alone, John Clennon Holmes's The Horn, and the work of writer and illustrator Alexander King. Readers will dig Gertz's enthusiasm and formidable knowledge; the stories behind key titles like The Polluters (in which the nation's water supply is spiked with LSD) are almost as enjoyable as the beautifully reproduced, full-color covers for titles like H is for Harlot, Narco Nympho, The Junk Pusher, and scores of others.
Reviewed on: 12/01/2008
Release date: 12/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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