We've added some new features. Please check out our recent changes.

Opium : how an ancient flower shaped and poisoned our world

by Halpern, John,

Format: Print Book 2019
Availability: Available at 5 Libraries 5 of 10 copies
Available (5)
Location Collection Call #
Brentwood Library New Non Fiction 362.29309 Halpern
Location  Brentwood Library
Collection  New Non Fiction
Call Number  362.29309 Halpern
CLP - Downtown and Business First Floor - New Books HV5816.H255 2019x
Location  CLP - Downtown and Business
Collection  First Floor - New Books
Call Number  HV5816.H255 2019x
CLP - Squirrel Hill Non-Fiction Collection HV5816.H255 2019x
Location  CLP - Squirrel Hill
Collection  Non-Fiction Collection
Call Number  HV5816.H255 2019x
Northland Public Library New Books 362.293 H16
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  New Books
Call Number  362.293 H16
Shaler North Hills Library Non-Fiction NEW 362.29 H
Location  Shaler North Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  NEW 362.29 H
Unavailable (5)
Location Collection Status
CLP - East Liberty New Books CHECKED OUT
Location  CLP - East Liberty
Collection  New Books
CLP - Main Library First Floor - New Non-fiction CHECKED OUT
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  First Floor - New Non-fiction
Mt. Lebanon Public Library Non-Fiction IN TRANSIT
Location  Mt. Lebanon Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Oakmont Carnegie Library Non-Fiction IN TRANSIT
Location  Oakmont Carnegie Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Whitehall Public Library New Book Collection CHECKED OUT
Location  Whitehall Public Library
Collection  New Book Collection
"A landmark project." -- Dr. Andrew Weil
"Engrossing and highly readable." -- Sam Quinones
"An astonishing journey through time and space." -- Julie Holland, MD
"The most important, provocative, and challenging book I've read in a long time." -- Laurence Bergreen

From a psychiatrist on the frontlines of addiction medicine and an expert on the history of drug use, comes the "authoritative, engaging, and accessible" ( Booklist ) history of the flower that helped to build -- and now threatens -- modern society.
Opioid addiction is fast becoming the most deadly crisis in American history. In 2018, it claimed nearly fifty thousand lives -- more than gunshots and car crashes combined, and almost as many Americans as were killed in the entire Vietnam War. But even as the overdose crisis ravages our nation -- straining our prison system, dividing families, and defying virtually every legislative solution to treat it -- few understand how it came to be.
Opium tells the "fascinating" ( Lit Hub ) and at times harrowing tale of how we arrived at today's crisis, "mak[ing] timely and startling connections among painkillers, politics, finance, and society" (Laurence Bergreen). The story begins with the discovery of poppy artifacts in ancient Mesopotamia, and goes on to explore how Greek physicians and obscure chemists discovered opium's effects and refined its power, how colonial empires marketed it around the world, and eventually how international drug companies developed a range of powerful synthetic opioids that led to an epidemic of addiction.

Throughout, Dr. John Halpern and David Blistein reveal the fascinating role that opium has played in building our modern world, from trade networks to medical protocols to drug enforcement policies. Most importantly, they disentangle how crucial misjudgments, patterns of greed, and racial stereotypes served to transform one of nature's most effective painkillers into a source of unspeakable pain -- and how, using the insights of history, state-of-the-art science, and a compassionate approach to the illness of addiction, we can overcome today's overdose epidemic.

This urgent and masterfully woven narrative tells an epic story of how one beautiful flower became the fascination of leaders, tycoons, and nations through the centuries and in their hands exposed the fragility of our civilization.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Before exploring humans' fraught relationship with opium, Halpern, a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of substance-use disorders, engages readers by sharing the story of a friend who committed suicide due to prolonged opioid use, and an alarming statistic: in 2017 alone, 47,600 Americans died from ­opioid-related overdoses almost as many as were killed in the entire Vietnam War. Subsequent chapters document opium usage over the last 8,000 years or so, reconsidering historic events in fresh contexts: the Spice Road was primarily used for drug trafficking; the discovery of the New World popularized the second most addictive substance in the world, tobacco; and the nineteenth-century Opium Wars were mere warm-ups for twentieth-­century pharmaceutical competition and greed. Halpern identifies misunderstandings about opioid addiction that fuel well-intentioned but ultimately futile social and government interventions, especially in our era of the Dark Web, Mexican drug cartels, and medical breakthroughs like OxyContin. Authoritative, engaging, and accessible, this call for action offers solutions insurance and criminal justice reforms, alternative treatments, and eradication of punishment and avenues to greater overall understanding.--Kathleen McBroom Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Halpern, the Boston Center for Addiction Treatment's former medical director, and Blistein (David's Inferno), a PBS documentarian, study opium's evolution (into morphine, heroin, oxycodone) and impact on world culture in an expansive but disappointing survey. To disprove any notion that "this crisis is worse, or fundamentally different, than any that has come before it," the authors start in ancient Egypt, where opium was "part of an everyday health regimen," and proceed to cover in rather repetitive fashion the first recorded drug crisis (in medieval Persia), the Silk Road between Asia and Europe, the Opium Wars between China and Great Britain, and today's Silk Road drug marketplace on the dark web. The authors, having demonstrated the persistent failure of drug eradication to alleviate addiction, whether with Lin Ze Xu's mass destruction of Canton's opium in 1839 or Nixon's war on drugs, end with their own suggestions, which include creating more needle exchanges and safe-injection sites and extending insurance coverage for addiction treatment. Their empathetic message is admirable, but the historical assertions are too often speculative--such as that Alexander the Great "undoubtedly" sought pain relief from war wounds with opium, which "likely" exacerbated his recklessness. Though well-intentioned, this study is unfortunately undermined by a weak narrative and a less than savvy use of history. (Aug.)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Opium -- History.
Opium abuse -- History.
Opium trade -- History.
Opium poppy -- History.
Publisher New York :2019
Edition First edition.
Contributors Blistein, David, author.
Language English
Description xxiv, 328 pages : illustrations (some color), color maps ; 24 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 9780316417662
Other Classic View