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Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream Paperback – Sep 1 1998

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (Sept. 2 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802135870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802135872
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 14.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #375,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Library Journal

Stevens has written a gripping account of the use and abuse of mind-altering drugs in recent decades. He explains the fascination of mescaline and psilocybin for psychologists interested in behaviorial change. He documents the insidious role of the CIA in testing mind-control drugs. He traces the convoluted path of Timothy Leary from his position as research psychologist at Harvard to his role as guru advocating the use of LSD to achieve spiritual utopia. He descibes the outwardly placid social climate of the 1950s, and vividly contrasts the dramatic upheavals of the 60s, sketching pulsing portraits of Allen Ginsberg, Aldous Huxley, and Jack Kerouac. Packed with facts, this is social history at its most compelling. Carol R. Glatt, New Jersey Bioethics Commission, Trenton
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

For Aldous Huxley it was the next step in human evolution; for the CIA it was a potential tool for mind control; for Timothy Leary it was the liberator of humankind (a belief that led to his being branded "the most dangerous man in America"); for Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters it fueled the notorious Acid Tests; and it was the improbable common denominator that united such disparate figures as Allen Ginsberg, Cary Grant, G. Gordon Liddy, and Charles Manson.

In this brilliant, riveting, and exhaustively researched book, Jay Stevens relates the history of that "curious molecule," LSD. He unearths a story of Pynchonesque complexity, tells it with novelistic flair, and irrefutably demonstrates LSD's pivotal role in the cultural upheavals that shook America in the 1960s and changed the country forever.

"Fascinating . . . The most compelling account yet of how these hallucinogenic, or psychedelic, drugs became an explosive force in postwar American history."-Newsweek

"Jay Stevens proves himself a superb social historian with a ripping good story to tell. He tells it brilliantly."-Commonweal

"Tirelessly researched and discursive enough to provide a quite enthralling read. A prize-worthy social and cultural history."-The Washington Times Magazine

"In this brilliant, engaging work, Stevens explores the hallucinogenic heart of that weird shiver in American history that was the 60s . . . exemplary history, compelling and committed."-Kirkus Reviews

In addition to Storming Heaven, Jay Stevens co-wrote Drumming at the Edge of Magic with Mickey Hart.

Inside This Book

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Had you asked your average hippie about beginnings, you would have discovered there were as many as there were hippies-everyone had a favorite chronology. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
I was born in 1960, so I was a little to young to appreciate the "Summer Of Love", Haight-Ashbury and the entire late 60's counter-culture movement. My fascination with that era began with Jimi Hendrix and other musicians associate with it. Most of the social aspects I was aware of were written by the "slanted" view of the media, teachers, politicians and parents; not the most objective of viewpoints
When I heard about this book I picked it up ... ASAP and was not disappointed. I will not go into lengthy discussions of this book like other reviewers (or even spell all the words correctly). While reading, Jay Stevens was placing me "there", "right there" where is was all happening from Aldous Huxley, to Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey.
The story unfolds "expertly" and the characters involved are so well described, it feels like I've met them personally.
While much of the information is public knowledge, there are many fascinating, generally unknown tidbits: from the CIA's LSD involvement to insights on Leary & Kesey.
Anyone who holds any interest in this subject will not be disappointed with this book. From someone who grew up on The Brady Bunch, The Monkees & Happy Days....this book is a definite eye opener into a cultural wave I wish I had been riding.... so "Turn On, Tune In & Get This Book".
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Format: Paperback
In the spirit of the subject matter, the best word to describe this book The author appears to have a genuine desire to objectively explore the history, for better or worse, of LSD and its role in American culture. Stevens does not approach this work being for nor against LSD. He just looks. As a result, this book comes out with flying colors...pun intended.
This book is a diamond in the rough for those who wish to take that same exploratory approach in reading about LSD and the history of this potent and controversial drug. It's not geared for people who are vehemently pro/anti LSD. Preconceived notions should be checked at the door before embarking on this adventure.
Stevens looks at LSD from its very beginnings, where characters such as Hoffman, Osmond, and Huxley help pave the way for much of what comes later in the book. As the narrative moves on, familiar names such as Ginsberg, Leary, Burroughs, Kerouac, Alpert, Metzner, Kesey, Cassady, Weil, Watts, and Wolfe, among others, enter and exit the stage like bit actors in this great showcase. If you've ever been enamored with the doings of any of those names, this book weaves a pattern from threads of various legacies in one fascinating tapestry.
As a caveat to the above paragraph, none of those characters is covered in much detail, with the exception of Timothy Leary. This is more a result of Leary's intense involvement with the scene than Stevens' focusing on one extraordinary character. Some of those people (Burroughs, for instance) make very brief but interesting appearances.
In addition to those mentioned, many unknown but intriguing characters fill the pages of this book. More than likely, every one of them will lead you to read on, until another name segues into the narrative.
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Format: Paperback
This investigative tour de force covers in great detail the years from 1943 (and a little before) up through the LSD hysteria circa 1965-7. I'm marking it down a star because of its inexplicable lack of an index, which greatly reduces its value as a research reference -- which it surely deserves to be. There are so many biographies trying to be told simultaneously here that it sometimes got a bit confusing. It also tends to go off on occasional tangents, digressing at what to me seemed like too great a length regarding some of the characters of the story which (again) to me seemed more like minor ones not worth the many background pages devoted to them. But those are rather small quibbles really.
Stevens is pretty good at keeping central issues front and center as events unfold: eg, how the psychological models evolved over time, and the socio-political question of whether the power of this amazing molecule was for the masses or just for the few -- both of which became more or less moot as events over-ran things.
I liked "Acid Dreams" a microgram or two more than this book, probably because it emphasizes cultural rather than personal history more, but still had a difficult time putting "Storming Heaven" down for very long. It's extremely information-rich and well-written -- it's rather dispassionately objective while still being interesting. It would probably only disappoint those looking for simple answers.
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By Jay Stevens on Oct. 13 2000
Format: Paperback
Let's get a couple of things straight: No, I am not the author. No, I'm not related to the author. So despite the name, I think I'm pretty unbiased, although some might think otherwise after reading the following glowing review of Jay Stevens' book, "Storming Heaven."
This was a great book.
Mr. Stevens tracks LSD from its inception through San Francisco's "the Summer of Love" in late 60s. He artfully describes the discovery of the drug and its effect on the psychologists who first used it on their patients and on themselves. He introduces Alduous Huxley, Tim Leary, and Ken Kesey-the pied pipers of LSD-and explains their fascination for psychedelics. He discusses the drug's decline, its unpopularity with government officials, its abuse by "untrained" American kids, and the progressive marginalization of the drug's "prophets." And all the while, Stevens skillfully gives voice to the drug's proponents' vision of a "metal frontier" to be crossed using LSD, pushing human beings along the evolutionary path.
It is clear from Mr. Stevens' book that LSD played a major role in the fundamental changes wrought in the 1960s. LSD tore down personal constructs and unveiled egos. LSD gave everyday Americans a chance to experience mystical visions. LSD gave many new insight into the nature of being. It was a psychological drug, and explains why most of the social change that occurred in the 1960s was psychological in nature.
But while Mr. Stevens in his Epilogue seems to laud the continuation of psychological exploration by a handful of "inner" explorers who use a series of newly developed designer psychedelics, I think he misrepresents the importance of these drugs.
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