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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
Alfred Ryan Nerz is a Yale-educated author, journalist, and TV producer. Hes also a longtime marijuana enthusiast who has made it his mission to better understand Americas long-standing love-hate relationship with our favorite (sometimes) illegal drug. His cross-country investigation started out sensibly enough: taking classes at a cannabis college, hanging out with a man who gets three hundred pre-rolled joints per month from the federal government, and visiting the worlds largest medical marijuana dispensary. But after connecting with a mysterious friend of a friend, his journey took an unexpected turn and he found himself embedded with one of the largest growers and dealers on the West Coast. He quickly transformed from respectable journalist into an underworld apprentice—surrounded by pit bulls, exotic drugs, beanbags full of cash, and trunks full of weed. But while struggling to navigate the eccentric characters and rampant paranoia of the black market, he maintained enough equanimity to explore a number of vital questions: Is marijuana hurting or helping us? How is it affecting our lungs, our brains, and our ambitions? Is it truly addictive, and if so, are too many of us dependent on it? Should we legalize it? Does he need to quit? As entertaining as it is illuminating, Marijuanamerica is one mans attempt to humanize the myriad hot-button topics surrounding the nations worst-kept secret—our obsession with weed—while learning something about himself along the way.
Advance praise for Marijuanamerica
“This book is so entertaining, I want to roll it up and smoke it. Ryan Nerz takes us on a delightfully weird and educational journey that includes crazed pharmacists, a guy named Buddha Cheese, and an interstate road trip with a trunk full of pot.”
—A. J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“Marijuanamerica has it all: danger, suspense, nuts-and-bolts reportage, laugh-out-loud dialogue, gritty characters, sociological dissection, and hella deep thoughts. Nerz has talent to burn; this is participatory journalism at its finest.”
—Davy Rothbart, author of My Heart Is an Idiot, creator of Found Magazine, frequent contributor to This American Life
“What a long, strange trip it's been for Ryan Nerz, whose wild tales and antics are the stuff stoner lore is made of. But in looking at how far Marijuana has come, he also poses the tough questions every stoner inevitably asks. Ryan's journey is one worth taking.”
—Shirley Halperin, author of Pot Culture
"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
"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
"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
Book News Annotation:
In his latest book of investigative journalism, Schlosser author of Fast Food Nation) presents three central players of the American black market—pornography, pot, and illegal immigrants—based on research he carried out for articles in Rolling Stone and the Atlantic Monthly. Writing in terrifically engaging prose, Schlosser details the business practices, schemes, criminal records, lifestyles and/or victimization of those involved, and relates the history of each enterprise, the role played by the US war on drugs and the process of US immigration, and the impact on the nation of the underground economy. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Americaand#8217;s black market is much larger than we realize, and it affects us all deeply, whether or not we smoke pot, rent a risquand#233; video, or pay our kidsand#8217; 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 and#151; pot, porn, and illegal immigrants and#151; 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#151; and profits and#151; from the underground.
Reefer Madness is a powerful investigation that illuminates the shadow economy and the culture that casts that shadow.
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 — perhaps 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. Through pot, porn, and migrants, 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.
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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History and Social Science » American Studies » Drugs and Culture