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Timothy Leary: A Biography

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  24 reviews
To a generation in full revolt against any form of authority, "Tune in, turn on, drop out" became a mantra, and its popularizer, Dr. Timothy Leary, a guru. A charismatic and brilliant psychologist, Leary became first intrigued and then obsessed by the effects of psychedelic drugs in the 1960s while teaching at Harvard, where he not only encouraged but instituted their expe ...more
Paperback, 689 pages
Published July 2nd 2006 by Harcourt Books (first published 2006)
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5
Author's negative bias presented as objectivity gets somewhat in the way of the information. And, his forst 40 years of life are pretty much dealt with in the first quarter of the book. I realize all the exciting stuff happened after that, but I want to know more about how he became who he was! I suspect psychological intuition is not one of Greenfield's strengths. (He did a good job on the Bill Graham book, but that was an oral bio and besides it was mostly Bill's book).

The one place where the
...more
Josef
Unflinching look at the text and sub-text of the real life human being known as Timothy Leary. Again, this bio pulls no punches and reveals what we all know by personal experience, but rarely attribute to the human beings paraded as "celebrities" to us via the many media channels perpetually surrounding our eyes and ears, that is, flawed, but real humanity. I personally enjoyed the parts dealing with the actual, scientific study and experimentation with the hallucinogenic, chemical properties of ...more
Tim
This was an absolutely fascinating book to listen to. It covers the sprawling history of this man's astonishing life in a lot of detail, and is therefore not just a book about a brilliant, multi-faceted, flawed human being, but a must-read for anyone interested in what really went down in the 1960s counter-culture. The colorful parade of characters who were major players in that time (and later on) is endless, and I read with great interest as famous writers, radicals, musicians, high society ty ...more
Todd Martin
Timothy Leary was a psychologist, Harvard Professor and counter-cultural figure in the 1960s who gained fame through his promotion of psychedelic drugs as tools for the expansion of consciousness. After becoming embroiled in legal battles and serving prison time in the 70s, Leary became a lecturer and futurist in later life, becoming interested in human life extension, computers and space colonization. He died in 1996.

I always thought of Leary as an interesting figure, and saw him speak back whe
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Clay
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Daniel Lovins
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lylah
The pro-drug crowd who sees Leary as a prophet generally dislikes this book because it portrays him as the very flawed human being he was. Leary was an irresponsible researcher and teacher, indifferent (at best) father, husband and friend, and had some genuinely kooky ideas (about space travel and technology as well as drugs). He was a drug addict (who started with martinis in the 40s and 50s and progressed to a huge variety of substances, ending with a daily internet broadcast of his intake of ...more
Bruce Roderick
This was one of those books that I bought with no intention of reading immediately but did plan on reading eventually. I had just finished Tom Wolf's THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST and was reading a bit of Hunter S. Thomson's work at the time that I bought this, so I was very interested in knowing more about Leary. My only concern would was whether or not this book would glorify Leary because I only wanted to know about Leary. Despite being a big fan of Thompson's (although I don't agree with h ...more
Sean
Having read many of Timothy Leary's books, as well as the "Flashbacks" auto-bio, I was initially excited to read this book.

Unfortunately, it seems as if Greenfield (who supposedly met Leary in 1970) was under contract to write a hatchet job. Leary's faults and foibles, of which he did seem to have many, get highlighted and his achievements deliberately get undermined or given back-handed praise.

I slogged through the whole book, but ultimately found it a bit depressing and tabloid-like. Don't get
...more
Kalma Piponius
Some have complained that this book concentrates too much on Leary's negative sides. I think biography should be critical on its object and if it's not its a dissapointment. Leary's life included probably so much content that even with this many pages it can't be contained there but only partly. For example his later theories, like 8-circuit conciousness -model, is not mentioned at all - maybe thought as too outrageous. It's obvious that his family life suffered from his hedonistic and messianic ...more
Claude
A must read for fools that idolise Timothy Leary without really knowing what kind of person he is.
The start part of the book where they explain his family history is a bit boring. It's a fairly lukewarm read until you get up to the part where he is working at Harvard and experimenting with drugs actually. I found it to be a worthwhile read as it confirmed my suspicions that Tim Leary was a dick, (just like Che Guevara if you actually get to know the facts from his life). It is also interesting t
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Rachel
This book actually erred on the side of being too thorough. I don't want to know what people had for lunch or breakfast. I'm not using that as an idiom, specific meal contents are listed more than once.
I didn't really know much about Timothy Leary beyond, "Turn on, tune in, drop out" and I learned an awful lot about how he could very possibly be the most selfish and self-absorbed person I've heard about in awhile. It was a little hard to keep going at points because of how unlikeable Leary is.
Catherine
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The American Conservative
'This book alludes to Leary’s charisma, but it never demonstrates it. By the time it’s over, the average reader might be forgiven for asking why such a man ever attracted any followers in the first place. That’s a pretty big failure in a biography of a pop icon.'

Read the full review, "The Acid Guru's Long, Strange Trip," on our website:
http://www.theamericanconservative.co...
Michael
I wish I could have met this guy. I knew about him and even read some of his books a few years ago. But this excellent biography introduced me to so much more. I will be picking up some of his books to read with a new perspective. He was dramatically wrong a lot, but at least he was trying with all he had. One of my favorite quotes before I read this bio. "Never trust a philosopher who hasn't been to jail." - TL
Mike
I learned that Timothy Leary was kinda like Uma Thurman's uncle. Thurman's mother, the model Nena, was briefly married in 1964 to Leary after the two were introduced by Salvador Dalí; she married Thurman's father Robert Thurman, the first westerner to be ordained as a Tibetan buddist monk, in 1967.
Vince
Doctor Tim was certainly an amusing 60's character. The author treads a fine line, not to lionize Leary, who was a mess and frequently wrong but not to be overly critical of the man and his work. Worth a read and for you trivia buffs out there I never knew his ex wife was Uma Thurman's mother.
Peter
The author almost comes across as looking down upon his subject as an amoral deviant but it's a fascinating enough read. I'm motivated to do more reading on relevant characters and philosophies glossed over in this book in order to reach my own conclusions. Dude lived a hell of a life...
Jason
I couldn't finish this it was so god awful. I don't know whether it was just Leary's reprehensibility itself or the very dry but very slanted style of the writing, but I was both bored and horrified all at the same time. But, I'm done.
Tom Schulte
I never realized how reckless and unhinged Leary was, but this is still a fascinating tale of rebel-pioneer asea in a changing world. His insights into the psychology of the incarcerated seem perceptive.
Shadesohd
Timothy Leary is a total huckster--a very pathetic figure. However, the story of his life provides a unique perspective on many fascinating currents of 20th century American history.
Chad
Mar 06, 2007 Chad rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: NO ONE!
Horrible book, very poorly edited. Focuses just on the negative aspects of Leary's life. Paints a completely different picture of Leary from the hundreds of interviews I've read.
Lelia
Sad story, sad man.
Tc
only interesting in the fact that I recall a lot of the references
Chloe
Chloe marked it as to-read
Apr 28, 2015
Adam Oliver
Adam Oliver marked it as to-read
Apr 25, 2015
Dittma
Dittma marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2015
Chris O'Connor
Chris O'Connor marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2015
Caroline
Caroline marked it as to-read
Apr 11, 2015
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