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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story
I have found this to be a very interesting story. It's fascinating to read Dr. Shulgin's account of his own life.
He seems like a very talented and worldly individual. I would be quite afraid to ever try any of the compounds in the book but it's interesting to read about them anyway. The way I read it, Dr. Shulgin's mission focus is one of cognitive enhancement, not...
Published on Jan. 7 2004

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Started so brilliant... went downhill dramatically...
The first half of this book is excellent. It tells us about the chemists life and how he discovered exciting new drugs. It also tells us about his experiences taking them.
The second half is terrible. It is written by his wife and it is a love story. She has to be the most pathetic person I have ever come across. I don't know how anyone can be so needy and insecure...
Published on Dec 4 2001 by Stephen Ryan


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Jan. 7 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
I have found this to be a very interesting story. It's fascinating to read Dr. Shulgin's account of his own life.
He seems like a very talented and worldly individual. I would be quite afraid to ever try any of the compounds in the book but it's interesting to read about them anyway. The way I read it, Dr. Shulgin's mission focus is one of cognitive enhancement, not getting stoned. I applaud him for writing this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A monumental work on drug structure., April 18 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
While the story itself is rather interesting, the last section of PIHKAL ('book II') is the true star. It's not a story...it's a list of aprox. 200 psychoactive and potentially psychoactive drugs, each lovingly described as to structure, synthesis, dosage, and effects. Each item is based on the core skeleton of phenyl-ethyl amine, which Shulgin laboriously explored at virtually every point, substitutive alkyl groups, thio groups, halides, etc. (Methoxy ring substituents are especially popular in his work.) The result is an astonishing array of hallucinogens, amphetamines, and some seemingly inert materials. While he is perhaps best known for his work on MDMA, the drug that would later gain infamy as the illegal drug 'ecstasy', it will surprise most readers to discover that MDMA is only one of an entire family of psychoactive drugs, each with their own sometimes subtle, sometimes astonishing differences. A truly extraordinary, landmark work for the pharmacologist, or simply those curious about psychoactive drugs from a more technical, exploratory stance. (That said, if you wouldn't know a carbon atom from a Honda Civic, you'll still like the biographical part, which is anything but dry and technical.)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Important scientific biography, interesting new-age history, Oct. 30 2001
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
I had assumed this book to be new-age fluff after having
seen it referenced so often in other new-age fluff books.
So I was quite surprised to find that it is really a
fascinating scientific biography, a genre I am
personally addicted to. The 'love story' wanders into the
fluff zone occasionally, and the chemistry recipe book
wanders into extreme alchemical arcana, but overall its
a comprehensive compendium that is unique as far as I know,
and a valuable record of the behind-the-scenes history
of the California new-age 80's. I am only puzzled at
Dr. Shulgin's lack of comment or experience in the traditional
spiritual practices, since even though he frequented Zen centers
while doing his assays, he seems not to be the least curious
as to the perspectives of these traditions.
I was also interested to read more about the mysterious therapist
referred to as 'Jacob' in the book 'The Secret Chief' by author
Myron Stolaroff. Check out this book after 'Pikhal' and you
will get a fresh and equally important perspective on the
practices of this seminal group of psychic healers/explorers.
somebody oughta make a movie! :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent. A prerequisite to the world of psychedelic drugs, March 23 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
This book is fascinating. It is not an "I like trippin' and listenin' to the Dead" book. It is a very thorough, interesting account of the work of two very intelligent and thoughtful people in the area of psychedelic drugs and their influence on/application to human life. Here's a quote that gives some idea of the orientation of the book: of marijuana (not a phenethylamine, and thus, not really addressed fully in the book), Shulgin writes, "I have chosen not to use marijuana, as I feel the light-headed intoxication and benign alteration of consciousness does not adequately compensate for an uncomfortable feeling that I am wasting time." Of psychedelics, he writes, "the potential of the psychedelic drugs to provide access to the interior universe, is, I believe, their most valuable property." This isn't a book about seeing jerry-bears and setting up clandestine labs. It's an introduction to a new way of exploring one's relationship to the rest of the universe. It is wonderful and an invaluable resource to all who are willing to try to deal with this piece of the puzzle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good science, good chemistry, good insight, Nov. 15 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
If you've heard about this book, you have probably heard of the 179 recipes for "designer drugs" (which, as Shulgin points out, is a moronic concept as all chemicals synthesized are made by design), whether inactive, active, or just plain weird in effect. They are there, in full detail for the chemist though lacking basic instructional material for the enthusiastic but untutored. (Like, they might not say what LAH in Et2O is, or that LAH can explode...) The syntheses include not just the overall gist, but grams of this and mls of that, including the extractions and purifications.
However, what Shulgin will give you that you didn't plan on is an insight as to why this is interesting in a scientific sense - the benefits in psychotherapy, the DRASTIC differences between effects of these chemicals in humans as opposed to rats, to the point where one compound is a highly effective analgesic in the one "taster" who has tried it so far, yet was ignored because rats had no effect, for example.
Last but not least, note that his DEA-approved research laboratory was busted and shut down in retaliation for his publication of this book. Solidarity...!
The "love story" itself (biography of the authors) ranges from fascinating to dull as you go along. Still, it gives a taste of what it is like to try so many bizarre drugs in a circumspect manner, and reminds you that this is someone who has subjected his brain to this for 20 years and is still smarter than YOU.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book of Spells, Nov. 25 2003
By 
Bufo Alvarius (the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
No psychedelic library is complete without PIHKAL. Some day in the future, when it may again be acceptable to use chemical tools to study the mind, this book will be a treasure-house, a sort of sorcerer's book of spells, to delight and enchant the psychiatrist / shaman of tomorrow.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pihkal: It will change you., Feb. 5 2001
By 
"dregaron" (Tucson, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
This book is divided into two halves. The first half is the story of Shulgin's life, from childhood to modern times. It is a moving and beautiful tale of one man's attempt to make sense of the world and his place in it. Intertwined in this personal experience is a budding love affair with a woman who could only be rated as amazing.
The second half consists of Shulgin's recipes and notes on the synthesis of every compound in the Phenethylamine category that he has ever made.
Overall, this book will change the way you feel about psychedelics, and the reasons that people use them. The story is at times inspiring, at times heartbreaking, and always genuine. Highly recommended as an introduction to the spirituality behind psychedelics and some of the issues involved with them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone interested in exploring conciousness!, Sept. 2 1997
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
It's not often that you find a combination of scientific objectivity and readability, but this joint effort by Shulgin and his wife Anne was entertaining, enlightening, and passed on a wealth of information, both personal and professional in nature.

Here you find a fascinating account of their brave excursions into the inner unknown, an account of the plusses and minuses of their experiences, a glimpse of the theraputic possibilities that lay in MDMA, and a wealth of technical information, layed out in a manner that even a layman can appreciate and enjoy.
For further reading by the same author I also recommend TIHKAL, a book that tells the story of the Tryptamine family of compounds in the same entertaining manner.<BR
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5.0 out of 5 stars Genius, Aug. 25 2002
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
a powerful, thorough look inside the intricacies of a relationship between two people, their relationship to psychoactive powers within their universe, and nitty gritty details about the nature of politics and philosophy.
Romance and science coalesce symphonically here.
An encyclopedic undertaking that achieves success on a number of fronts, this work shatters delusions and opens your mind. There is really something for everyone here: an inspiring love story and a challenging counter-culture tome written by geniuses.
Not to mention the fact that you get a lot of pages for a nice price.
A must for any extensive library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Oh my goodness I cried., April 16 2002
By 
snickerpants (Edmonds, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story (Paperback)
Yes, this is THAT book. And I am shamed to admit the reason I read it was to see if all the rumors were true. They are. But that's not the interesting part of this book. The interesting part is that it has a really wonderful story about the athors and their lives. Alexander Shulgrin seems like kind of a jerk but his philosophy on life and why he does what he does more than makes up for his behavioral quirks. Also, it has some good guidelines for people who are looking for something spiritual rather than just a good high.It is an incredibly informative book, I recomend it highly. (no pun intended)
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Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story
Pihkal: A Chemical Love Story by Ann Shulgin (Paperback - Oct. 1 1990)
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