Since drugs became popular, there have been countless books on what to do with them. The most interesting are those of a creative kind by high-profile writers: De Quincey, Baudelaire, Aldous Huxley, Henri Michaux, William Burroughs, Carlos Castaneda. The most useful, so far as social policy is concerned, are those by low-profile operators in the field: scientists, doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, police.
The least interesting or useful prove to have been the polemical books in neither category, so I wasn’t thrilled by the prospect of this one, written by a political journalist, and hyped by Elton John, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Fry and Naomi Klein. My unease was aroused, but not because Johann Hari is of the left — I’d be equally suspicious of a book on drugs by Paul Johnson endorsed by Cliff Richard and the Vatican.