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Hardcover Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure Book

ISBN: 0316084123

ISBN13: 9780316084123

Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure

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Book Overview

In a blistering expose based on interviews with policy makers and a catalog of damning statistics, journalist Dan Baum shows how America's war on drugs went from a politically potent campaign ploy... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An excellent history on the War on Drugs

The book Smoke and Mirrors is a history of the War on Drugs launched by Richard Nixon and that continues to this day. It is very critical of the War and shows the faults of the War and its negative consequences on American society. The book does not bash just Republicans and the right wing. In fact Baum makes it clear that Nixon's drug-policy was actually not that bad and certainly better than what was to come. Baum also makes it clear that Democrats jumped on the bandwagon and supported the War on Drugs just as much as the Republicans. I was for legalization of marijuana before reading Smoke and Mirrors and now I have even more faith in legalizing marijuana. While I was aware of many things Baum mentions, I did not realize how much the Supreme Court has eroded our civil liberities via the War on Drugs. If you want an engrossing read while learning something useful, this is certainly a book to read.

Well-told history of a maddening time

I first heard the author describing how he conducted his research for this book: he went and talked to the actual people who designed and implemented the various policies that make up the WoD. It sounded like a relatively balanced view of how we got here. Well, it is. I just find the conceptions and motivations of the drug warriors incredibly frustrating (and evil). Then only negative about the book is that its span ended in 93-94ish, leaving out some the egregious violations of our civil liberties. Read the book, and become active in the fight for sanity and freedom!

Baum traces history of drug war.

In this book Baum traces the great American anti-drug crusade back to 1969, the first year of the Nixon administration. In that year more Americans died of choking on food than from the effects of illegal drugs. But drugs, which were a relatively minor public health problem, became the object of a massive legal, political and cultural offensive against the phenomena known as "The Sixties" - and this offensive has gone on ever since. Many of the voters who supported Nixon - and later Reagan - were outraged by the high crime rate among blacks and equally outraged by black political and social activism in the sixties (even though the activists were not the sort of blacks who were likely to commit crimes.) These voters were unwilling to spend more tax money to lower the black crime rate by ending poverty. They wanted something that would, in their minds, punish blacks collectively. The federal government could not attack the sort of crimes that were the object of realistic fears, such as burglary, since these were purely a local matter. However the federal government could go after drugs since they were shipped across state lines. White House staffers looked over a sociological study that showed that a high proportion of heroin addicts committed theft. They came to the conclusion that heroin addiction caused theft - for money to maintain the habit. The author of the study protested that this was not indicated by the data. But the government anti-drug wizards insisted - by attacking heroin, we will lower crime in general and (unspoken but understood) since a high proportion of heroin users are black, we will punish all blacks symbolically. Voters for Nixon and Reagan were also often outraged by white youth who grew their hair long and protested the Vietnam war (these two actions were often seen as identical). To attack these youth symbolically the government went after Marijuana, which many of them smoked. Marijuana, which has not been shown to cause a single death, was lumped with the far more dangerous heroin and cocaine. All of them were to be considered simply as "drugs", equally bad. The "drug problem" was seen as so severe that it was worth doing away with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution which prohibits searches and seizures without a warrant. Baum's book gives many examples of bizarre injustices in drug law enforcement. Baum says that the heroin and cocaine problems by themselves would not be enough to justify the huge increase in police powers. "Marijuana," he writes, " politically t

Should be required reading for all Americans.

This extremely well-written journalistic book sheds new light on the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs begins as a campaign ploy and ends up a national hysteria. Although it is harder on Republicans and Conservatives in general, the Democrats become equally complicit in their run to "look tough." The Democrats sell out to the national hysteria and cause as much damage as the Republicans. It depicts a nation gone crazy, which even now is just beginning to recover.

Smoke And Mirrors-What every American Needs To Know

Through over 200 personal interviews with 175 people connected with the "War On Drugs" Dan Baum has created the most informative and correct account of the drug war that is availible to man. Nowhere else will you find how the government has targeted drugs as a cheap way to stay elected. Never has the government caused such a false sense of fear then with drugs. "Smoke And Mirrors" is one of the best books I have ever read. No matter how you feel about the drug war, it is worth your time to review this text. You will be outraged at how much injustice has been dealt, and how the "War" as been often racially biased. Even if you see drugs as the ultimate evil that plagues our society and is the root of all our problems, it may be because the true facts have never been given until now. By reading this book, you might discover what has been hidden for so long, and see why the government has been so eager to cover up any positive drug notion (ex. Nixon commissions study to find effects of marijuana. They find no significant health detriments, see medicinal value, and reccommend legalization. Nixon discredits study and brushes it under the rug. Later gets reelected on anti-drug platform. $16 billion spent on the war last year.) Please think, and then read this book. I guarantee that it will be time well spent.
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