Reefer Madness Over the past decade or so there seems to have been a dramatic increase in the publication of a certain type of American book which seeks to imbue a single cultural trend - say the growth of Prozac or label-clothing chains - with a political significance that implicates us all. Indeed such is the stated importance of these books that buying them rather than reading them appears less an act of intellectual curiosity than one of social responsibility. Perhaps that is why so many have become bestsellers. At any rate, surely it is time someone wrote a book about the global fall-out of this particular cultural trend. A suitable choice for author might be Eric Schlosser, who knows the genre well, having written Fast Food Nation and, now, Reefer Madness.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser. 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 technology 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. Get A Copy. Paperback , First Mariner Books edition , pages. Published April 1st by Mariner Books first published More Details Original Title. Reuben Sturman. Other Editions 1. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
To ask other readers questions about Reefer Madness , please sign up. Does reefer madness talk about Vietnam or Watergate? Nate Nope, it discusses black market industries: undocumented workers, marijuana, and pornography. See 1 question about Reefer Madness….
Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Investigating America's Vices 19 June Written the author of Fast Food Nation , this book contains three case studies that each dealing with an area of the black market: marijuana, immigrant workers in the strawberry fields on California, and the hard core porn industry. As one can expect from Schlosser, it is a thoroughly researched and tries to look at these industries in an objective manner, and does not necessarily try to conclude with some left wing conspiracy.
Basically there are lots of Investigating America's Vices 19 June Written the author of Fast Food Nation , this book contains three case studies that each dealing with an area of the black market: marijuana, immigrant workers in the strawberry fields on California, and the hard core porn industry.
Basically there are lots of books that cover the topic of marijuana in the United States and the war on drugs. Being an Australian where possession of small amounts up to three ounces in some places is pretty much a misdemeanor that results in a small fine, it is difficult to understand the nature of the war on drugs as it plays out in the United States. In a way the war itself is scary because it has been suggested that if you are caught with even one joint you can be classified as a dealer, locked up, and have all of your possessions confiscated, even before you have been convicted.
In a way I believe that this is a really heavy handed approach, particularly since the laws date back to the s, where the Dupont company pushed for the criminalisation of marijuana so that it could dominate the textile industry. Another argument is also that since it is only recently that marijuana has become a popular Anglo-saxon drug up until the sixties marijuana was predominantly a Mexican pleasure, and its narcotic purposes were only used in cure-all potions made by chemists, who in those days did not necessarily need a license to practice.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to access anything these days on the history of drugs and drug use since many of these documentaries are generally not made, or if they are, do not appear on the mainstream media unless of course its message is 'Drugs are bad'.
In a way, it feels as if marijuana did not exist prior to the sixties, and that modern drugs, such as meth-amphetamine, did not exist until the late 90s which is not true because allegedly Hitler used it during World War II and also apparently fed it to his troops.
It appears however that this book is about the black market and how the black market influences all of our lives. In a way we are all exposed to the black market, whether we smoke pot, or rent dodgy videos from those dodgy video stores that have no windows. This is where the second case study comes into play: illegal immigrants.
Schlosser looks at the strawberry growers, but this applies to a lot of industries across the United States and while it happens in Australia, the fact that we do not have any land borders with poorer nations, we have a lot less illegal immigrants than do the United States.
The reason illegal immigrants are so popular is because the laws do not apply to them, so they can be paid under the minimum wage, which means more profits for the business owner, and that they are not affected by the unfair dismissal laws or any of the other laws that apply to legitimate employees.
While the section on the porn industry applies to the black market as well, much of this has more to do with the freedom of speech amendment than it has to do with the black market even though while the industry was fighting the obscenity laws the profits coming from the porn industry were effectively a part of the black market.
Mind you, this section surprised me because I was expecting it to deal with Hugh Heffner or Larry Flynt, but they barely made a mention in this section. I guess the reason is that we are dealing not with what is termed as soft porn if there is such a thing but with hard core pornography.
Mind you, porn has been around as long as there have been people willing to pay for it even though before photography, we had to pay for live shows, and then we might as well go to a brothel , however with the advent of film, television, and now the internet, access to it has become a lot easier.
Shelves: nonfiction-finished , politics , reviewed. Eric Schlosser, the grade-a muckraker whose widely read Fast Food Nation catapulted him to fame, returns with Reefer Madness, dedicated to nothing less than examining the underbelly of America's black market. Through three distinct essays dealing with marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography , he examines the history, underlying economics, policy effects, and future directions of products and services that America can neither seem to abstain from nor openly embrace.
Reefer Madness is a diffic Eric Schlosser, the grade-a muckraker whose widely read Fast Food Nation catapulted him to fame, returns with Reefer Madness, dedicated to nothing less than examining the underbelly of America's black market.
Reefer Madness is a difficult book to review because, in practice, it's actually three completely distinct essays, tied together at the front and the back.
The essays have markedly different style and tone, making a comprehensive review challenging. So, I will take the easier route: briefly reviewing each section. The book's overall score is the average, weighted to how long each essay is. Heavy on both the legal history and status quo, Schlosser's peerless research shines, giving an unvarnished account of how pot is grown, distributed, prosecuted, and proselytized.
He interviews people on both the smoking and the busting ends of the spectrum, and makes a convincing case that pot is, by income, the most profitable cash crop in the country, above corn a position advocated by some long-time federal investigators, among others. His final conclusions are that a the chemical and psychological dangers of marijuana are likely far lower than those of alcohol and nicotine, b proper research into marijuana's properties is being systematically discouraged to keep it classifies as being higher-risk than cocaine or PCP, c draconian enforcement has led to America's staggering incarceration rate which has unduly criminalized that inmate population and destroyed both lives and families , and d that a system of taxation and regulation would more effectively solve America's pot-related problems than the utter failure that is the War on Drugs.
He makes a solid if somewhat dry case for these points, backed up by considerable evidence. The investigative punch of this section is largely weakened by immigration having, since the book's publication, become the new "hot" issue for American conservatives, which has led many of Schlosser's assertions to become widely known.
To his credit, his treatment of the issue does a fair job of both humanizing migrants and of explaining the pressures on growers to use migrants, giving the reasons for poor labor conditions without demonizing or forgiving unnecessarily.
The historical angle of the story is also a welcome addition, one rarely heard in today's rhetorical war. Still, the essay is too short and isn't an eye-opener. Schlosser could have done much better.
Schlosser brilliantly weds a comprehensive examination of porn's move from underground to mainstream with the legacy of an almost unknown figure who, by all accounts, essentially controlled pornography distribution for over 30 years: Reuben Sturman. Schlosser's high-density, high-quality research alone would provide much the same interesting tone as in the first essay, but combined with the rise and fall of Reuben Sturman it becomes electric and intensely personal.
Despite its lengthy exposition and its mere page length, the story of Reuben Sturman could easily be an HBO TV series on par with the best serial television ever produced. The story is so incredible it can be hard to believe, with Sturman and his rival Richard Rosfelder of the IRS spending decades locking horns with great victories and defeats.
The story has a femme fatal, a prison break, money laundering of the highest caliber, the Mob, and explosions.
From his first run-in with the law in to his eventual death in , Sturman waged a personal war on the U. Perhaps Schlosser's strength in this section stems from his detachment to its outcome.
Unlike the first two essays, which have a prescriptive tone, hard-core porn is essentially a done deal in America. While a "war on porn" has been pushed by the Bush administration, a conflict Schlosser anticipates but had not yet had a chance to see emerge, he rightly treats it as a futile battle: porn and prudes locked horns for decades, and porn won.
As a result, Schlosser spends very little time telling us how things ought to be and can focus on telling us how it was. Final Overview Throughout, Schlosser's research is staggering.
This helps to make his more eye-popping assertions even more striking. It's clear throughout that he isn't making any of this stuff up. Truth is stranger than fiction, and Schlosser is determined to uncover the truths about areas of American living and business that many people would rather not examine at all in fiction or otherwise.
Though it lacks the powerful, life-changing punch of Fast Food Nation, this is nevertheless an excellent book that every adult American should read.
View 1 comment. Reefer Madness is a collection of 3 extended essays about the underground market in America for marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography.
The author has focused primarily on the economic aspects of the underground. The topics themselves are quite interesting. Reading about the strict laws against marijuana use are both frightening and mind-boggling. How can consuming something as harmless as a joint warrant a harsher sentence than what is often handed out to murderers or other violent crimina Reefer Madness is a collection of 3 extended essays about the underground market in America for marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography.
How can consuming something as harmless as a joint warrant a harsher sentence than what is often handed out to murderers or other violent criminals? How is the US contributing to the influx of illegal immigrants in the US by failing to regulate agricultural growers who employ migrant laborers from Mexico for little to nothing? What does the overwhelming consumption of porn in the US reveal about how out of touch mainstream thought and criticism regarding porn are from what many people feel about it privately?
The point being there is never an absence of food for thought. Schlosser feels that few laws albeit strictly enforced ones and government regulation of certain areas like business and worker's rights are necessary to produce the kind of equal and fair economy and country that most people espouse.
Few would disagree with him there.
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Adam Smith believed in a God that was kind and wise and all-powerful. The great theorist of the free market believed in Providence. Each purchase might be driven by an individual desire, but behind them all lay "the invisible hand" of the Divine. This invisible hand set prices and wages. It determined supply and demand. It represented the sum of all human wishes.