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Patrick's Psychedelic Ride

Disclaimer: No hallucinogens were consumed in the writing of this blog post.

"The fact that the US government was introduced to LSD through Nazi research shaped much of the federal government's early attitudes around it and other psychedelics; once the Nazis elicited a potential weaponized use for LSD, the drug was never able to shake that taint." --Norman Ohler, Tripped: Nazi Germany, the CIA, and the Dawn of the Psychedelic Age

There is perhaps no better indicator of shifts in societal and cultural norms than what is being written about and published for broad consumption. Such is the case with the recent influx of non-fiction works on the history of psychedelic drugs.  In the past few months alone, three new books — Tripping on Utopia, Tripped, and Trippy — have hit our shelves.  Each challenges the conventional wisdom that confines psychedelics to a mere counter-cultural symbol.  Instead, these books demonstrate the instrumental role hallucinogens played in advancing scientific research, government policy, and even geopolitics. One, if not all of these titles, is bound to entrance you.

Tripping on Utopia: Margaret Mead, the Cold War, and the Troubled Birth of Psychedelic Science by Benjamin Breen illustrates the cooption of consciousness anthropology by the U.S. government for geopolitical competition. Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson intended to better humanity through the scientific exploration of mind-altering medicinal research. But their government patrons envisioned their research would lead to breakthroughs in chemically induced coercion. This history begs the question, is the customer always right?   

Tripped: Nazi Germany, the CIA, and the Dawn of the Psychedelic Age by Norman Ohler examines how Nazi Germany’s psychedelic research influenced U.S. government policy and covert action at the dawn of the Cold War. While domestic mandates became ever-more stringent regarding the use of recreational substances, the architects of the American national security establishment ramped up secret, exploitative, and ultimately abusive R&D efforts to test the efficacy of psychedelics as an intelligence-gathering mechanism. 

Trippy: The Peril and Promise of Medicinal Psychedelics by Ernesto Londono provides an analysis of the modern-day psychedelic landscape. Author Ernesto Londoño takes us on his personal journey of mental trauma alleviated by psychedelic therapy. Londoño identifies that this up-and-coming industry has roots in both the scientific and indigenous communities and has found proponents in wide-ranging circles, from religious practitioners to military veterans. Londoño has his finger on the pulse of the rapidly changing cultural milieu offering personal testimony into the possibilities and hazards posed by hallucinogenic-assisted healing.  


Born in Hawaii, Patick possesses an MA in Foreign Policy and National Security and has studied in Kingston, Jamaica. Unsurprisingly, Ian Fleming rests at the top of his favorite author list. Patrick is an avid reader of history, politics, and spy thrillers.

Interested in buying? Check out the list here!