The war on drugs has been official American policy since the 1970s, with the UK, Europe, and much of the world following suit. It is at best a failed policy, according to bestselling author Antony Loewenstein. Its direct results have included mass incarceration in the US, extreme violence in different parts of the world, the backing of dictatorships, and surging drug addiction globally. And now the Trump administration is unleashing diplomatic and military forces against any softening of the conflict.
Pills, Powder, and Smoke investigates the individuals, officials, activists, victims, DEA agents, and traffickers caught up in this deadly war. Travelling through the UK, the US, Australia, Honduras, the Philippines, and Guinea-Bissau, Loewenstein uncovers the secrets of the drug war, why it’s so hard to end, and who is really profiting from it.
In reporting on the frontlines across the globe — from the killing fields of Central America to major cocaine transit routes in West Africa — Loewenstein reveals how the war on drugs has become the most deadly war in modern times. Designed and inspired by Washington, its agenda has nothing to do with ending drug use or addiction, but is all about controlling markets, territories, and people. Instead, Loewenstein argues, the legalisation and regulation of all drugs would be a much more realistic and humane approach. The evidence presented in this book will persuade many readers that he's right.
“Loewenstein's book is meticulous and forensic, and also impassioned and urgent. What stands out is the clarity of his thinking and the rigour of his arguments. He has an historian's grasp of the big picture and a storyteller's skill for getting us to walk in the other's shoes. The vast scope of his thinking, travel and research is evident on every page, as is his clear-headed compassion. This book is vital and I couldn't put it down.”
Christos Tsiolkas, author of Loaded and Dead Europe
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“Antony Loewenstein is an amazing journalist and this is an amazing book. Anyone who cares about the war on drugs—one of the biggest catastrophes in the world—should read this superb book right away.”
Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections
“In this vivid, partisan piece of reportage, Australian journalist Loewenstein (Disaster Capitalism) depicts the catastrophic human consequences of the U.S.-led war on drugs and advocates for the legalisation of all illicit substances. Loewenstein argues that America’s prohibitionist policy serves not to counter abuse or impede trafficking, but rather to create corrupt “narco states” that are complicit with the federal government’s foreign policy goals ... Readers inclined to take a skeptical view of the drug war ... will welcome Loewenstein’s advocacy.”
Praise for Disaster Capitalism:
“The forces of disaster capitalism are increasingly on the defensive, but their attacks on the global commons have expanded in the years since I wrote The Shock Doctrine. I am very grateful that Antony Loewenstein has brought his meticulous reporting to this subject, and the result is a keenly observed and timely investigation into rampant resource plunder, privatized detention centers, and an array of other forms of corporate rapacity on four continents. This book will serve as a potent weapon for shock resistors around the world.”
—Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything and The Shock Doctrine
“Chilling study, based on careful and courageous reporting, and illuminated with perceptive analysis, helps us understand all too well the saying that man is a wolf to man.”
“A journey into a world of mutated economics and corrupt politics that we ignore at our peril.”
“A devastating, incisive follow-up to Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine.”
“Our economic system now depends upon transforming emergency relief, incarceration and the processing of asylum seekers into profits…[an] unnerving and convincing book.”
“Antony Loewenstein offers us a superb description of the diminishing power of national governments and international organizations to exercise power in the modern world.”
—Robert J. Burrowes, Lahore Times