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Reefer Madness and Other Tales from the American Underground

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  4,667 ratings  ·  379 reviews
Published (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Belarius
Jan 26, 2008 Belarius rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Potheads, Pornhounds, and Migrant Workers
Eric Schlosser, the grade-a muckraker whose widely read Fast Food Nation catapulted him to fame, returns with Reefer Madness, dedicated to nothing less than examining the underbelly of America's black market. Through three distinct essays (dealing with marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography), he examines the history, underlying economics, policy effects, and future directions of products and services that America can neither seem to abstain from nor openly embrace.

Reefer Madness is a diffic
...more
Brandon T.
Jan 12, 2009 Brandon T. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sociologists, Those interested in American culture
Eric Schlosser has made a name for himself by probing behind the scenes of popular American phenomena. He became famous for Fast Food Nation, which was later turned into a film.

Schlosser's subject matter may trend towards the pop world, but his cross of investigative journalism and postmodernist sociology is both fresh and informative. It is obvious that he takes his material as seriously as any professional observer, and the reader reaps the reward of his work in the form of a much clearer unde
...more
Kevin
This was somewhat disappointing after the first section. The section on illegal immigration focused almost entirely on strawberry farmers. That was fine as far as it went (and I don't know that I'll ever buy strawberries again). I was expecting a more broad description of the labor "underground" - and perhaps hoping for a further exploration of the illegal labor market in house cleaning and yards. Those are the places that regular Americans most encounter illegals and I think would have been mor ...more
Apple
Jun 28, 2008 Apple rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those researching migrant labor and immigration
Shelves: nonfiction
Like others who have read Fast Food Nation, I picked this up with great hope. Like others who have read this book, I was sorely disappointed.
It is what it is: a gussied up textbook version of marijuana, porn, and migrant labor statistics that feels as sterile as a World Book encyclopedia. I would have been completely disinterested if the book was not peppered with personal accounts. Still, in pages where these stories were absent, reading became unbearable, as if I was in high school again and b
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Rachel
(written 6-03)

This was a collection of three essays, one about marijuana law, one about immigrant strawberry pickers, and one about the porn industry. I had already read the first one, found it on the internet, and liked it. The other two were just as insightful and I agree with Schlosser on all points - that the black market is too large to be ignored, that marijuana should be decriminalized, that corporations need to be regulated and the market cannot be trusted to serve the best interests of
...more
Michael Hildrum
I normally really like books written with views that strongly correlate to my views. However this one was just mediocre.

It is really a collection of three essays by Schlosser.

Marijuana, illegal migrant workers, and pornography are the topics.

Marijuana is the best, as it presents some sort of viewpoint about marijuana laws and punishments. Pornography is the worst, as it jumps around in time and subject from one porn guy to another, and basically just seemed like a jumbled biography of Reuben St
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Robert
Reefer Madness is not so much a collective novel as much as it is a collection of three essays with a unifying theme. The unifying theme is meant to be the undermining and corruptive “black market” of marijuana, illegal immigrant workers and the porn industry. While each essay has its strengths, the theme as a whole does not really work.

The theme is weak in part because the “black market” aspects of each topic are corruptive in completely different ways. The first essay is the most effective and
...more
Dennis Littrell
Schlosser, Eric. Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market (2003) *****
Journalism as social criticism--or vice versa

There are three long, but very well-written essays in this book, portions of which previously appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone and the US News and World Report.

The first, the title essay, is on the marijuana business in the United States with a concentration on the "killer weed's" legal history, its economics and how it is cultivated to
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furious
Mar 06, 2008 furious rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: masochists, supervillains, unshakable optimists
Shelves: from_work, sociology
although by this point, a lot of the statistics are pretty old & some stuff is surely outdated, this is still a very good introductory examination of not only the concept of the black market, but some of the ways society feels its impact. i'm not quite done yet, but there seems to be a dearth of focus on the internet in the porn section, considering that this was written in like 01 or 02...

update: okay, so he did talk more about the internet in the final chapters. the whole thing still just
...more
Jason
Reefer Madness is a collection of 3 extended essays about the underground market in America for marijuana, migrant workers, and pornography. The author has focused primarily on the economic aspects of the underground. The topics themselves are quite interesting. Reading about the strict laws against marijuana use are both frightening and mind-boggling. How can consuming something as harmless as a joint warrant a harsher sentence than what is often handed out to murderers or other violent crimina ...more
Ob-jonny
Fantastic history of marijuana and migrant farm workers. The theme of the book is the underground industries where people are paid "under the table". The 3 themes are the marijuana market, migrant farm workers, and the porn industry. Eric Schlosser has done some great research and has presented enough facts and data to make strong conclusions on these topics. The writer states his own beliefs and the end of each section but the facts are so compelling that the reader can figure it out on their o ...more
Emily
Jul 02, 2007 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hypocrites
Shelves: booksofthepast
This book proves how bloody hypocritical the American government is (as if anyone doubted it already). An in-depth look at three of the US's most productive underground industries (pornography, illegal immigrant labor, and the marijuana trade), "Reefer Madness" details the ridiculousness with which the US government approaches the processes that make up ten percent of the country's total business. Judging by sales, Americans love pot and porn, but live in a country that has law about them that a ...more
Louis
Reefer madness is a look at the underground economy. Schlosser uses three aspects of the underground economy as a lens; the cultivation of marijuana, the hiring of illegal migrant workers (specifically California agriculture), and the production and distribution of pornography.

Scholosser is very much sympathetic towards the participants in these industries. He paints marijuana growers as small time farmers who are trying to make ends meet, and who are caught in the war on drugs by outsiders who
...more
Ellen
Nov 12, 2007 Ellen rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I wouldn't
Well written, but overall badly done....don't bother. This follows Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, which was an excellent, well-researched piece of journalism. But this book is very disappointing.

It is supposed to investigate three illegal markets...marijuana, illegal immigrants, and pornography. The section on illegal immigration is less than 35 pages, which is pathetic and doesn't even skim the surface. (He confines his discussion to agricultural workers, leaving our all other categories of ill
...more
Randy
Jul 10, 2007 Randy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: keithharris@gmail.com
I read and enjoyed Fast Food Nation several years ago. This book is by the same author, Eric Schlosser.

None of the detail or commentary in this book is original, but it is put together in a compelling package and in a manor that makes you think about how some of the laws and prejudices that we have in place are that way, and it just may make you think to question that.

There is a quote in the ending narration of the book that talked about what Freedom means, and it said that if you are going to b
...more
Pantea
Another book on CD I listened to on the way to work - it was really fascinating... lots and lots of info on the taboo topics of the US underground trades of drugs, sex and illegal workers. I liked how the main focus was on the economic and legal impact of each of these issues and not so much on the morality surrounding it (although the laws are often impacted by that!). The author spent a lot of time on the drug trade (almost exclusively about marijuana use/sale) and way too much time on the sex ...more
Lee
This book is divided into 3 parts, the common link being black market economics, politics and social implications of weed, farm labor and porn. The porn section was by far the most interesting, covering the fascinating life of porn kind Reuben Sturman, the Godfather of American porn long before the emergence of Playboy and today's current incarnations. Incredibly well-researched, and a fascinating study of a man who started from nothing, from when "porn" barely existed up to the modern era when ...more
Brian
Mar 22, 2007 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: consumers, pornographers
Many of the themes in "Fast Food Nation" return here, particularly in the section on migrant labor: Reading it, you quickly become aware of the corner into which our economy has backed itself. As is the case with the fast-food industry, the low costs we take for granted are only possible at the expense of the workers who produce these products. The section on pot is particularly disturbing as well; among other things, it's yet another reminder of what a disaster mandatory minimum sentencing laws ...more
Bookwombat
I agree that this book falls short of "Fast Food Nation", but it is a decent read nonetheless.

The three essays on marijuana, illegal migrant workers in California's strawberry fields, and pornography is presented under the unifying "US black market" theme.
However, I don't think Schlosser ever got around to actually wrapping this unifying notion up. This leaves the three essays, good as they are individually, flapping in the air and their aspects as three sides of the US black market unaddressed.
...more
Crabby McGrouchpants
Eric Schlosser, writer (and co-screenwriter of the Richard Linklater film adaptation) of Fast Food Nation brings us more into This World: the America under the under-our-feet, that only the persistant journalist's eye (where are those, nowadays? oh, wait: here's one!) can dredge up to the light of day, so we can see it!

(Muckrakin's back, kids, but with such a sociologist's grasp of how the territory is — and gets — shaped, that only those with Preliminary's Completed First need apply!)
Economists
...more
Jeff
Another well documented book from Schlosser. This one shines light on three taboos in the American culture: marijuana, pornography, and illegal labor. Who is keeping marijuana out of the marketplace and why? Where did pornography get it's start and who profits from it? Would our agriculture industry and economy collapse without illegal immigrants breaking their backs in the fields? Schlosser uncovers the answers to all of the madness in... Reefer Madness.
Liam
An insubstantial book of very specific american interest. The "notes" section is impressively thick and responsibly detailed, although perhaps a little too thick and detailed for such an impressionistic survey of the disconnected subjects it covers. Personally the "case study" approach didn't work for me, although it made for a more engaging narrative thread to tie up the analysis. Schlosser is shy of making loud moral statements, despite dealing with thorny issues, and prefers to make observati ...more
Derek Baldwin
Read this:

- If you didn't know that the laws on marijuana in America are ridiculously over-severe and that they are very patchily implemented (one law for the rich, etc)

- If you didn't know that large parts of the US economy are founded on the exploitation of illegal migrant labour, fruit picking being a prime example

- If you didn't realise pornography is a good way for dodgy people to make shedloads of money

In which case you will learn something from this.

Otherwise: move along, there's nothing
...more
Anna
Dad's clinic is in the chapter about porn.
Kelly
Reefer Madness, the Brown Scare & Sex Crazed Fascists

In REEFER MADNESS, Eric Schlosser looks at the effects of U.S. policy on the underground or "black market" economy. Specifically, he examines three diverse "commodities" – "recreational" or illegal drugs (specifically, marijuana), cheap labor (provided by undocumented workers or "illegal aliens" from Mexico and South America), and "adult" materials (primarily pornography) – and the American "war" on each. Schlosser narrows the scope of his
...more
Conor
Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
Eric Schlosser
Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Company
336 Pages
Copyright 2003

 
This is NOT the book for Conservatives. A book not necessarily advocating, but justifying pot, porn, and illegal immigration, Schlosser successfully supports his claims with striking evidence. Written by the same author of Fast Food Nation, Schlosser is a convincing, if not sometimes boring author. One things sure though, he gets the point across,
...more
Vince Darcangelo
This review originally appeared in the BOULDER WEEKLY
http://archive.boulderweekly.com/0513...

Notes from the Underground Nation
Through pot, produce and peep shows, Eric Schlosser explores America’s shadow economy.

by Vince Darcangelo
- - - - - - - - - - - -

A poor Midwestern farmer serves time in Leavenworth for growing pot. Migrant farm workers from labor camps sleep in parked cars in Southern California. A comic-book salesman in Cleveland builds a pornography empire and turns the modern porn indu
...more
David Sarkies
By the author of Fast Food Nation, this book contains three case studies each dealing with an area of the black market in America, namely marijuana, immigrant workers in the strawberry fields on California, and the hard core porn industry. As one can expect from Schlosser, it is a thoroughly researched and objective view of these industries, and does not necessarily try to reach some left wing conspiratorial conclusion.
Basically there are lots of books on marijuana in the United States and the
...more
Darcia Helle
This is a powerful book. Broken into 3 parts, it deals with the history of our approach to marijuana use; our use of illegal immigrants, specifically in the strawberry fields of California; and the development of porn in our country, how it grew, and how our government's attempt to suppress it only continued to spark the flame.

Eric Schlosser's meticulous research is written in an easy to understand form. He states the facts without any bias. For instance, you'll learn that a young man, with no p
...more
Nathan
This is 3 investigative reporting stories under a single cover. The central theme is the failed prohibition of Marijuana, Mexican labor in the US, and Obscenity.

The Reefer Madness section is good, but contains no new information vs movies like Hemp Revolution or High.

The Mexican Farm Labor story centers around Strawberries in California. The laws and legal dodges surrounding farm labor have changed enough this decade that this is more historical than topical.

The Obscenity Laws question center
...more
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Eric Schlosser is an award-winning American journalist and author known for investigative journalism. A number of critics have compared his work to that of Upton Sinclair.

Schlosser was born in Manhattan, New York; he spent his childhood there and in Los Angeles, California. His father, Herbert Schlosser, a former Wall Street lawyer who turned to broadcasting later in his career, eventually became
...more
More about Eric Schlosser...
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food Cogs in the Great Machine (Pocket Penguins 70's #2) Americans

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