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High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  1,343 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
A pioneering neuroscientist shares his story of growing up in one of Miami's toughest neighborhoods and how it led him to his groundbreaking work in drug addiction.

As a youth, Carl Hart didn't realize the value of school; he studied just enough to stay on the basketball team. At the same time, he was immersed in street life. Today he is a cutting-edge neuroscientist—Columb
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published June 11th 2013 by Harper
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Community Reviews

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Petra X
“I have to make sure I don't engage in conversations with people who don't abide by the rules of evidence.” Dr. Carl Hart, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University (and eye candy, which is never a bad thing).

Dr. Hart has written a dual-subject book. Part of it is his biography, of how he grew up in a poor, culturally-impoverished, abusive home in Miami and lived the life of the hood but managed to avoid crime, addiction and became a scientist. He isn't tooting his own horn,
Erica Mauter
Dec 03, 2013 Erica Mauter rated it liked it
Overall, I appreciate the story, and the point Dr. Hart is getting at about research and drug policy. What I wanted was less memoir and more critical commentary. The two mostly worked together, but this book really needed tighter editing; it didn't come together for me until about two-thirds of the way through.

Side note: I used to work in the pharmaceutical industry. I left for a variety of reasons including ethical concerns about marketing. So I was sort of shocked to see an image of Dr. Hart p
May 09, 2013 Riya rated it really liked it
Before I begin my review of this book, I want to mention that I was provided with a free advanced copy of this book by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This book will be released June 11th of this year. The digital copy of this book that I read had the title of "High Price" while on Goodreads it is called "The Pleasure Paradox"; both books have the same cover but I am not sure what the official title will be once it is published.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

My summary of the book: Ca
Nov 21, 2016 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Updated 11/2016: The thing that most annoys me about this book, isn't actually the book, but the reviews that say it's not good enough because it's a memoir. Yes, it IS a memoir (as it clearly says) but it is also a book about race, drugs and drug policy. People who are reviewing the book have had a tendency to assume the pages should be filled with more evidence and science. That's a mistake. The author has worked hard to indicate that the book is in no way a scientific journal article.
This bo
Nov 12, 2013 Glennchuck rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
The first 50 pages or so were pretty stiff and I didn't think I'd finish this one. But then, every other page or so, he'd take one of my preconceptions about drugs, behavior, or society and smash it into teeny tiny bits. Also, as he progressed through his own amazing life story, the book flowed better for me. By the time he got to the science that has transformed his own ideas about how we mishandle drug use/abuse in America, I was completely on board. The science wasn't too dense for me, a ...more
Po Po
Dec 15, 2014 Po Po rated it liked it
Dr. Hart claims we need to calm the fuck down about crack and meth (in other words, de-stigmatize recreational drug use). Using drugs occasionally doesn't necessarily produce a non-functioning unproductive member of society.

It's a common misconception that once you start using a "hard drug", you will become instantly addicted. Hart proves this isn't so. In Hart's research, he has also debunked another myth-- that occasional use of drugs destroys brain cells and lowers cognitive function.

* * *

Nov 10, 2014 Drew rated it it was amazing
Loved Hart's memoir-cum-drug scientific book. The research here is sound and employs the oft-argued scientific method (will we ever evolve as a species, collectively?) Also, I loved the struggle from the hood to the lab, great inspiration for anyone who starts out in the trailers of sub-continuation public schooling. I related because I too occupied those same trailers when I was a confused adolescent. Now, I teach at an Ivy League school, despite what the naysayers proselytized. From that ...more
Nov 18, 2014 Todd rated it liked it
Shelves: fffabc
Well, this didn't challenge everything I know about drugs and society.. The authors story was interesting, however, Dr. hart's battle of being addicted to being cool was the biggest challenge of the story as far as I could see.
Dominick Quartuccio
Apr 18, 2015 Dominick Quartuccio rated it it was amazing
Did you know that crack cocaine and powder cocaine are chemically the same drug?
As are Meth and the prescription drug Adderall?

Then why are crack cocaine and meth believed to be such horrifyingly devastating drugs, while cocaine and Adderall are often seen as recreational drugs of high society?

Dr. Carl Hart enlightened me to these questions in High Price.

High Price is a book with many layers:

- A scientific assault on what we've been conditioned to believe about drugs. While Dr. Hart does not min
Jo Skårderud
Mar 08, 2016 Jo Skårderud rated it it was ok
Leste denne boka for å finne ut mer om effektene av narkotikapolitikk i USA. Det var en tabbe. Mens rundt 20 prosent av boka handler om narkopolitikk, og denne delen er bra, er resten selvbiografi om Carl Hart. Den er tidvis jævlig. Jeg vet ikke om det er en kulturforskjell eller om Hart bare er høy på seg selv, men det er en skrytebonanza som aldri ville kunnet komme på trykk i et norsk forlag. Hart dypdykker ned i hvor hardtarbeidende han er, hvordan han lå med så mange damer i ungdommen at ...more
Jan 14, 2015 Angela rated it liked it
Shelves: dn-books
I really enjoyed this eye opening book. In this memoir laced with scientific discovery, Dr. Hart demonstrates a lot of the ideas we have been sold in the war on drugs culture we inhabit. He talks about race and how our views on drugs, the media coverage, and the scientific ignorance about them have all lead to a social construct that devastates communities. In his unique perspective, in which he tackles the role of race in science and drug perceptions based on his personally lived story and his ...more
Bob Gustafson
May 25, 2014 Bob Gustafson rated it liked it
This is an autobiography of an African-American who grew up in a working-class neighborhood in Miami and, as a consequence of fortuitous opportunities, peculiar decision-making and athletic and intellectual ability, became a professor of neuroscience at Columbia University. He combines this latter credential with his background to make a statement about the foolishness of the War on Drugs. The book is a pleasant read.

The author was interviewed on Book TV. It was that interview which induced me t
Dec 01, 2014 Lucy rated it really liked it
Dr. Hart's persuasively argued memoir delivers. I have been having serious doubts about the "War on Drugs" and I have always been outraged by sentencing disparities. Hart demonstrates that the drug narrative we've been listening to for decades is supported neither by science nor by his own experience growing up in a community disproportionately affected by drug policy. While I did not find his writing style to be as elegant as my mother did (she was in raptures)he wrote competently and accessibl ...more
Aug 17, 2015 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this fascinating memoir/science book/political call to action, neuroscientist Carl Hart tells his story of growing up in a poor part of Miami with a father and mother who split up early and friends who later lapsed into the drug trade and other dead end lives.

He originally thought he might become a youth counselor, but his own experiences with drugs and the impact he thought they were making on his hometown led him into scientific research, often the lone black in the labs he worked in.

Jul 24, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing
High Price is a brilliantly written memoir that will challenge everything you think you know about race, drugs, crime, and even academia.

Dr. Carl Hart began life in inner-city Miami, one of eight siblings raised by his mother and grandmothers. He did not take school seriously and did the bare minimum in order to participate in football and basketball. Upon graduation, he joined the Air Force, and his life began a long journey of challenges that ultimately led him to become an accomplished neuros
Jul 28, 2016 Joshua rated it really liked it
Incredibly well-constructed and insightful. Hart merges a discussion of the clinally-proven psychological effect of street drugs (much of which he has conducted) with his own story coming from an impoverished background in Florida, going into the armed forces, and going on to college, grad school, and eventually becoming a tenured professor at Columbia. Professor Hart makes abundantly clear that the effect of (often racist) drug policy and enforcement decisions has had a much more negative ...more
Oct 22, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it
I know less now than I did when I started the book, and that it's a good thing. I no longer "know" that meth is particularly destructive to the brain. (Studies with that conclusion, were on animals under much higher doses than humans use.) Many of the things we "know" about the dangers of drugs simply are not borne out by facts.

Do people become addicted and experience problems? Yes, but putting users in the criminal justice system doesn't help. Should drugs be legalized? Not necessarily, but pos
Dec 19, 2013 Dan rated it it was ok
This book does have some truly interesting content and observations on the correlations between race and drug culture. I have found myself thinking often about the very (now) obvious message. The issue is that I wanted it presented in much less of an auto-biographical (and opinionated) way. I think I'll be looking for some essays written by Carl Hart instead of completing this book. I read through most of it but found myself quickly skimming through pages that seemed to talk about small ...more
May 10, 2016 Adrian rated it it was amazing
Dr. Carl Hart explains the current state of drug research by providing his life story has a background. As a reader, we receive both an autobiography sprinkled with summaries and commentaries of research articles relevant to drug abuse and drug addiction. For example, the Olds and Milner seminal articles are discussed in the context of their findings but also limitations. Overall, I throughly enjoyed the SCIENTIFIC, historical, social, and personal approach taken by Dr. Hart to explain how drugs ...more
Jul 22, 2013 Tori rated it it was ok
This book really pissed me off. I loved Dr. Hart's segments in The House I Live In, and I was really looking forward to reading this book. I think my views are extremely close to his views, but I felt like he was pushing an agenda too hard. The book felt manipulative to me. It also came across like he was talking down to the reader. I didn't realize that so much of the book was going to be his personal story. Some of his research results seemed too oversimplified, and I wish he had discussed the ...more
May 08, 2016 Michelle rated it really liked it
V good, just disappointed that The real discussion about his research on drug use didn't come in to play until about the last hundred or so pages of the book. I was reading in an interview that he had specifically written this book because he wanted to dispel myths about drug use. I honestly would've preferred if this entire book had simply focused on that instead of his personal experience. Whoever I see that the two are intertwined.
Heidi Busch
Jun 25, 2016 Heidi Busch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I think this book is an interesting take on a different subject in neuroscience. I appreciated that the author explained his own research to give logic to his argument. I think that this book is highly readable for the layman and may help to explain why some people become addicted to drugs and others do not.
Although there was more memoir here than I really wanted to read, it did help to put the drug research and policy elements in perspective. The conclusions of the book are surprising to me, and they have the potential to bring great changes to American criminal laws if they do contribute to a serious discussion of decriminalization.
Dec 17, 2014 Jake rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
3.74 stars. I really liked the scientific info and drug policy critique, but I had a hard time seeing how a lot of the autobiographical story tied in to the premise. Started off slow, but got quite good by the last few chapters, a good book overall.
Aug 28, 2016 Liz rated it it was amazing
Excellent book tracing both the author's journey from an impoverished background to becoming a top researcher, and also the path of his research into addiction and drugs. Excellent audiobook narration, some of the best I've ever heard. Great story and very thought-provoking.
Science For The People
Featured on Science for the People show #285 on October 3, 2014, during an interview with author Carl Hart.
Kathrin Passig
Mar 04, 2016 Kathrin Passig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathrin by: Hinweis bei Twitter auf Spiegel-Interview mit dem Autor
Shelves: drugs
Ich habe ein Goodreads-Regal zum Drogenthema und es kommt nicht oft vor, dass ein Buch mir noch mal eine ganz neue Perspektive eröffnet. Aber das hier war so eines.
Tom Steinberg
Dec 05, 2016 Tom Steinberg rated it it was amazing
By p. 208 (hardcover) I was wondering of the book title is pointed word play around Leary’s screed, High Priest. For me, High Price is a lively, engaging account of Carl Hart’s mind expansion. I don’t mean with drugs. I don’t mean without drugs, either. The driving factors are hard work, good luck, and the ability to recognize a path forward. It helps to have smarts and - don’t leave home without them - social skills. The metric is about absorbing and developing new ideas, growing and changing ...more
Nov 24, 2016 Nancy rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nancy by: Petra X
This memoir has sparked a number of conversations. Carl Hart grew up in a family with all the markers for failure that were identified in low income family, separated parents, very crowded housing, parents who did not value education). In addition he had the extra challenge of being a black boy growing up in a southern state, not a white child growing up in England. He describes many points in his life where he could have ended up on the path to being on ...more
Sorry; upon further review, this has been moved down to two-star level. See the end for why

Carl Hart is good on the basics of what we know, and don't know, about addiction and neuroscience. He's decent on telling the story of his life, and on public policy, minorities and the "War on Drugs." However, where parts 1 and 2 intersect, he sometimes seems to soft-pedal part 1 for the sake of part 2.

Basic point 1 is that he is African-American, and grew up in lower-class neighborhoods in greater Miami
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“If Barack Obama had come up in a time when the drug war was being waged as intensely as it is now, we probably would never have heard of him. A single arrest could have precluded student loans, resulted in jail time, and completely ruined his life, posing a far greater threat to him than the drugs themselves did, including the risk of addiction to marijuana or cocaine.” 2 likes
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