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Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Marketby Eric Schlosser
"Hypocrisy is one of the indictments Eric Schlosser levels against America in Reefer Madness, his smart, levelheaded look at the unpleasant truths that emerge when you turn over the rock of mainstream American business and check out what's underneath. The other is that our worship of the almighty free market leads us to ignore injustice — because, as he points out in his discussion of illegal laborers, 'giving unchecked freedom to one group usually means denying it to another.' It's hard to argue with these conclusions. But Schlosser's analysis takes a back seat to the vivid portrait he paints of three funny-money zones where punitive moralism, venality and Puritanism grow as luxuriantly as 10-foot-high Humboldt County sinsemilla." Gary Kamiya, Salon.com (read the entire Salon review)
"Schlosser, justly famous for Fast Food Nation, stares the stats down. He's very much the 'interpretive' journalist, deftly sketching historical roots and sociological implications and bringing it all to life with narrative portraits of ordinary people, then summing up with a frank statement of his policy recommendations." John H. Richardson, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
In Reefer Madness, the best-selling author of Fast Food Nation investigates America's black market and its far-reaching influence on our society through three of its mainstays — pot, porn, and illegal immigrants.
The underground economy is vast; it comprises perhaps 10 percent — or more — of America's overall economy, and it's on the rise. Eric Schlosser charts this growth, and finds its roots in the nexus of ingenuity, greed, idealism, and hypocrisy that is American culture. He reveals the fascinating workings of the shadow economy by focusing on marijuana, one of the nation's largest cash crops; pornography, whose greatest beneficiaries include Fortune 100 companies; and illegal migrant workers, whose lot often resembles that of medieval serfs.
All three industries show how the black market has burgeoned over the past three decades, as America's reckless faith in the free market has combined with a deep-seated puritanism to create situations both preposterous and tragic. Schlosser traces compelling parallels between underground and overground: how tycoons and gangsters rise and fall, how new technology shapes a market, how government intervention can reinvigorate black markets as well as mainstream ones, how big business learns — and profits — from the underground.
With intrepid reportage, rich history, and incisive argument, Schlosser illuminates the shadow economy and the culture that casts that shadow.
"Schlosser is a fine and diligent reporter with a real gift for description, and his three dispatches are fascinating pieces of work.... This is very good journalism..."Sam Sifton, New York Times Book Review
"What ties Reefer Madness together is Schlosser's passionate belief that America is deeply neurotic, a nation divided against itself into a sunny, whitewashed mainstream and a lusty, angry, deeply denied subconscious. He just might be the shrink America needs." Lev Grossman, Time
"Like Fast Food Nation, this is an eye-opening book, offering the same high level of reporting and research....A solid-and timely-second effort from Schlosser." Publishers Weekly
Americas black market is much larger than we realize, and it affects us all deeply, whether or not we smoke pot, rent a risqué video, or pay our kids nannies in cash. In Reefer Madness the best-selling author of Fast Food Nation turns his exacting eye on the underbelly of the American marketplace and its far-reaching influence on our society. Exposing three American mainstays — pot, porn, and illegal immigrants — Eric Schlosser shows how the black market has burgeoned over the past several decades. He also draws compelling parallels between underground and overground: how tycoons and gangsters rise and fall, how new techonology shapes a market, how government intervention can reinvigorate black markets as well as mainstream ones, and how big business learns — and profits — from the underground.
Reefer Madness is a powerful investigation that illuminates the shadow economy and the culture that casts that shadow.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 284-292) and index.
About the Author
Award-winning journalist Eric Schlosser is a correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly. His first book, Fast Food Nation, has been on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year (hardcover and paperback combined) and has appeared on the bestseller lists of the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly, among others. Schlosser has appeared on 60 Minutes, CNN, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, FOX News, The O?Reilly Factor, and Extra!, and has been interviewed on NPR and for Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, and the New York Times. He is currently at work on a book about the American prison system.
Table of Contents
The Underground 1
1 Reefer Madness 11
2 In the Strawberry Fields 75
3 An Empire of the Obscene 109
Out of the Underground 211
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