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Cocaine

From Medical Marvel to Modern Menace in the United States, 1884-1920

Joseph F. Spillane

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Winner of the Addiction Book Award from the Society for the Study of Addiction

In 1884 American physicians discovered the anesthetic value of cocaine, and over the next three decades this substance derived from the coca plant became so popular that it became, ironically, a public health problem. Demand exceeded supply; abuse proliferated. The black market produced a legendary underground of "cocaine fiends." As attempts at regulation failed, Congress in 1914 banned cocaine outright, and America launched its longstanding war against now-illegal drugs.

Challenging "traditional thinking about both...

Winner of the Addiction Book Award from the Society for the Study of Addiction

In 1884 American physicians discovered the anesthetic value of cocaine, and over the next three decades this substance derived from the coca plant became so popular that it became, ironically, a public health problem. Demand exceeded supply; abuse proliferated. The black market produced a legendary underground of "cocaine fiends." As attempts at regulation failed, Congress in 1914 banned cocaine outright, and America launched its longstanding war against now-illegal drugs.

Challenging "traditional thinking about both the 'rise' and 'fall' of drug problems" (which makes legal prohibition the pivotal point in the story), Spillane examines phenomena that have eluded earlier students of drug history. He explores the role of American business in fostering consumer interest in cocaine during the years when no law proscribed its use, the ways in which authorities and social agents tried nonetheless to establish informal controls on the substance, and the mixed results they achieved.

In asking how this pain-allaying drug became recognizably dangerous, how reformers tried to ameliorate its social effects, and how an underground of cocaine abusers developed even before regulation of the drug industry as a whole, Spillane discovers contingency, complication, and mixed motives. Arguing that the underground drug culture had origins other than in federal prohibition can tell us as we face questions about drug policy today.

Reviews

Reviews

Joseph F. Spillane has written an immaculate monograph on the drug's early history in the United States of America. His use of archives and diverse other sources means that he writes with unparalleled authority.

A new, detailed history, carefully crafted, and with reader-friendly summaries.

This is a good piece of work, combining cogent ideas with a rich historical narrative. It is an important book for anyone interested in the complicated, interesting history of American drug use and control.

Spillane's account... is nuanced, deeply researched, and highly original.

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the country's current 'War on Drugs.'

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
240
ISBN
9780801871160
Illustration Description
9 halftones, 2 line drawings
Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. A Miracle of Modern Science: The Medical Use of Cocaine
Chapter 2. Debating the Dangers of Cocaine: The Medical Era, 1885–1895
Chapter 3

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. A Miracle of Modern Science: The Medical Use of Cocaine
Chapter 2. Debating the Dangers of Cocaine: The Medical Era, 1885–1895
Chapter 3. Making Cocaine
Chapter 4. Selling Science: The Pharmaceutical Industry and Cocaine
Chapter 5. The Transformation of Cocaine Use: The Popular Era, 1895–1920
Chapter 6. Private Acts, Public Concerns: The Emergence of the Cocaine Fiend
Chapter 7. The Cautionary Tale: Cocaine and Drug Industry Regulation
Chapter 8. Consumers' Paradise?: A Shadow Market Emerges
Conclusion. The Foundations of Modern Drug Control
Notes
Sources
Index

Author Bio
Joseph F. Spillane
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Joseph F. Spillane

Joseph F. Spillane is an associate professor of history at the University of Florida. He is the author of several books, including Cocaine: From Medical Marvel to Modern Menace in the United States, 1884–1920, also published by Johns Hopkins.