Sunday, 27 July 2014
Albion Dreaming: A Popular History of LSD in Britain
Contrary to popular belief, LSD is much more connected to Britain than it is to the US. This engaging book looks at the use of LSD in British society, from its arrival in 1952 to the present day. It provides a hidden history of a controversial drug and how it permeated British culture. The author explores LSD's use by the medical profession in treating a variety of psychological and mental problems. At the same time, The Ministry of Defense believed they were on the brink of harnessing LSD as a battlefield incapacitation drug which would enable wars to be won without loss of life. But LSD's popularity rose with its use among the British counterculture, from the 1950s beatniks through to the late 80s acid house parties. At its height, when it was legal, LSD affected the lives and philosophies of significant individuals (politicians, scientists, writers, educators, entertainers, artists, journalists) as well as ordinary people for good and bad. This book is the first to explore LSD's amazing influence on British culture and society.
The Jay Stevens book, Storming Heaven, is one of my favourite reads but it is very US centric so when I spotted a copy of this in the window of a Glastonbury bookshop I felt an immediate need to read.
It was a little disappointing. The writing is OK and the information interesting but there are blatant gaps in the narrative - not his fault as the records are blocked - which are frustrating and jarring and drag things down somewhat and after a while you start to wonder (possibly unfairly) if maybe he could have been a bit more rigorous in his research. More frustratingly though is that Roberts is blatantly evangelical regarding LSD. I prefer my authors to maintain a short of scholarly distance and simply relate the facts. I can make up my own mind and don't particularly enjoy being preached at.
That said though I still found much of interest here and it's definitely worth a read if it's your sort of subject matter.