Why did I love this book?
A towering work that graces the shelf of any student of psychedelic cultural history. Memorable for its coverage, scholarship, and humour, Acid Dreams documents how LSD, once prized by the CIA as a chemical WMD and espionage weapon, broke free from the military-industrial enterprise and escaped the confines of psychiatric research to shape the aesthetics of sixties counterculture, paving its way to become a furnishing of modern life. While there are other notable efforts to address this material (i.e. Jay Stevens’ Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream), Acid Dreams is a wonderfully detailed social history of LSD.
As a page-turning documentation of the role of LSD and other so-called “psychomimetics” in the CIA’s covert “mind control” program MKUltra, the book offers fascinating coverage of the “secret acid tests” in which LSD was tested on unsuspecting US citizens in the 1950s and 1960s. The book weaves together the stories of a cavalcade of characters, including Frank Olsen, Captain “Trips” Hubbard, Sandoz and Albert Hofmann, Aldous Huxley, Alan, Watts, Allen Ginsberg, Oscar Janiger, Tim Leary, Ken Kesey, Owsley, the Grateful Dead, the Acid Tests, and so many more.