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Webs of Smoke: Smugglers, Warlords, Spies, and the History of the International Drug Trade

by Kathryn Meyer (Author)



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
"Read on and join the ranks of those who appreciate just how complicated a
problem drug trafficking and use really is," the authors pronounce in their
book's foreword. The authors, both historians, trace the development of the
international drug trade between 1907 and 1954, shifting among Europe, Asia and
the U.S. Throughout that time, the drug trade?and the money it
represented?affected and was affected by political developments. Early in the
century, even as European governments condemned drug use, they depended on the
revenue from opium monopolies they ran in Asian colonies such as Hong Kong and
Taiwan. The authors have done their homework well (providing footnotes and an
extensive bibliography), but the final result is disjointed. Every few pages
they throw in mini-biographies of players in the drug trade, from English
bureaucrats to Chinese poppy growers and Japanese traders. It's easy to lose
track of who's who, as people mentioned in an early chapter show up again 100
pages later, well after the reader has forgotten their significance.
Concentrating on a few main characters who exemplified certain traits would have
produced a more coherent whole. Only in the last few pages do Meyer and
Parssinen find parallels between the Chinese opium trade and the current
inner-city drug wars, something that would have given the work more current relevance.

From Library Journal
History professors Meyer (Lafayette Coll.) and Parssinen (Univ. of Tampa) have
put together an authoritative and well-documented account of the history of
world traffic in illicit narcotics in the first half of the 20th century. The
authors probe the four elements common to a successful drug trafficking
enterprise: supply, delivery, investment, and enforcement. Legislative
initiatives and international regulatory efforts are set against a backdrop of
high-stakes intrigue, underworld cabals, personal successes and failures,
political opportunism, corruption, and shattered careers. By 1900, the shifting
profile of the typical narcotics user?from Civil War veterans hooked on
pain-killing opium to young urban hoodlums?resulted in growing public alarm
about addicts and their drugs. Legislation soon emerged, as did America's first
drug czar, Harry J. Anslinger. Except for the slight difference in focus, this
work closely parallels Martin Booth's Opium: A History (LJ 6/15/98). Both books
are essential for any collection seeking to provide historical insight into the
current narcotics debate.


Product Details

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.; (November 28, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 074252003X

 

 

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