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Home > High society: mind-altering drugs in history and culture.

Jay, Mike (2010) High society: mind-altering drugs in history and culture. London: Thames & Hudson.

High Society explores the spectrum of mind-altering substances across the globe and throughout history. Beautifully illustrated with rarely seen material, this striking, lyrical and rigorously researched book puts its controversial subject into the widest possible context.

Every society is a high society. Every day, people drink coffee on European terraces and kava in Pacific villages, sniff cocaine in American suburbs and petrol in Aborigine slums, chew betel nut in Indonesian markets and coca leaf on Andean mountainsides, swallow ecstasy tablets in the clubs of Amsterdam and opium pills in the deserts of Rajasthan, and smoke ya'aba in Thai nightclubs, hashish in Himalayan temples and tobacco in every nation on earth.

Acclaimed cultural historian Mike Jay paints vivid portraits of the roles that drugs playas medicines, religious sacraments, status symbols and coveted trade goods. He traces the understanding of intoxicants from the botanicals of the classical world through the mind-bending self-experiments of early scientists to the present 'war on drugs', and reveals how the international trade in substances such as tobacco, tea and opium shaped the modern world

A Universal Impulse
High Societies • The Evolution of Drugs • Animal Intoxication • Drugs and Shamanism • Drugs and Culture • The Culture of Kava • The Culture of Betel • Drug Prohibitions • Drug Subcultures • The Cultures of Ecstasy

From Apothecary to Laboratory
What Is a Drug? • Drugs in Antiquity • Renaissance Herbals • Witches and Flying Ointments • The Invention of Laudanum • Linnaeus and the Enlightenment •
The First Synthetic Drugs • Opium and the Romantics • The Club des Haschischins • Freud and Cocaine • Addiction and Drug Control • Mescaline, LSD and Beyond • Drugs of the Future

The Drugs Trade
Drugs of the New World • The Psychoactive Revolution • Tobacco in China, Tea in Europe • The Opium Wars • The Anti-Opium campaign • Temperance and Prohibition • The ‘War on Drugs’ • Epilogue: The Decline of Tobacco

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Book
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
General / Comprehensive
Call No
192 p.
Thames & Hudson
Place of Publication
Accession Number
HRB 4943 (Available)

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