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Smack: Heroin and the American City (Politics and Culture in Modern America)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  42 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Why do the vast majority of heroin users live in cities? In his provocative history of heroin in the United States, Eric C. Schneider explains what is distinctively urban about this undisputed king of underworld drugs.

During the twentieth century, New York City was the nation's heroin capital over half of all known addicts lived there, and underworld bosses like Vito Genov
Paperback, 280 pages
Published July 1st 2011 by University of Pennsylvania Press (first published June 26th 2008)
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Frank Stein

This is a worthwhile history of the heroin trade in the 20th century that is unfortunately combined with excessive and strained explanations for heroin use and some contradictory stories about the relative importance of supply and demand in creating the heroin "epidemic."

The real story here is about New York City, which as late as the mid-1960s had almost half the countries heroin users. The reason is that the city was an entrepot for the Turkish heroin travelling through Marseilles (the "French
Jan 10, 2010 Nycdreamin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an amazingly in-depth and historical look at how Heroin use rose to such prominence in American cities during the 20th Century. Heroin production and use is detailed from growers, bulk suppliers, and dealers, right down to the street junkie. Also looks into the use/abuse of the drug in various entertainment circles throughout the years, especially among early jazz artists. If you don't know much about the drug, it's use and it's history, this would be a good place to learn.

One of t
Feb 24, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book. The importance of peer influence in heroin proliferation is interesting and I think correct. We see the power of peer influence in other areas as well. But it is interesting that social elites - musicians, in this case - were the fuse for the problem; it is interesting that people want to be like the rich, the cool, the talented, the famous and we will grab onto anything to be like this case, to take their drug of choice. Once that takes hold in some individuals, then they s ...more
Evgeni Klauber
Jun 21, 2011 Evgeni Klauber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During the twentieth century historians displayed a general scholarly disinterest in the social settings of drugs in general and heroin in particular. The study of drugs used to focus on historical and psychological rather than social and political conditions. Schneider (2008) proves that social and political settings for drug usage can help us with the objective understandings of the phenomenon. Schneider (2008) draws precise social and political mechanisms linking drug cultures with the observ ...more
Oct 16, 2012 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting narrative on the decline of the American urban landscape through the lense of heroin use. It addresses socioeconomic, racial, and cultural reasons for the balloon in drug use in the urban setting. I thought his use of individual stories was intersting but he could have used more to back up his points, especially those related to knowledge and opportunity as being motivating forces in the youth trying heroin. Well written and interesting, I really enjoyed it.
Sep 16, 2013 Ben rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not too dry for an academic history, this book's subject is fascinating. It turns out the history of heroin is also the history of globalized trade, of American race politics, and of urban restructuring post-WW2.
L.M. Elm
Apr 05, 2014 L.M. Elm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know why heroin is at its heart a drug of the city with its capital in New York City, read this book.
Dave Cutler
Oct 16, 2013 Dave Cutler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very solid history of heroin's progress through the thicket of US drug morality and regulation.
Jan 17, 2009 Denali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maytomay
schneider looks at heroin as an urban/spatial phenomenon. makes for good reading so far.
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