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The Last Opium Den

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  303 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Nick Tosches trades civilization and its discontents for the possibility of one moment of pure bliss.

Driven by romantic, spiritual, and medicinal imperatives, Nick Tosches goes in search of something everyone tells him no longer exists: an opium den. From Europe to Hong Kong to Thailand to Cambodia, he hunts the Big Smoke, bewildered by its elusiveness and, despite the mea
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published January 5th 2002 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 5th 2001)
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Jan 14, 2008 Stacy rated it really liked it
this book will make you want to seek out the company of dangerous, or at the very least rogue, men, go to exotic places where you don't speak the language but have a very definitive view of what it should look, smell and taste like in your head, live fast and hard and find an opium den and try some.

nick tosches is a great, rollicking raconteur. he's a dying breed of man (maybe not a bad thing, in the long run), of writer, of a certain kind of teller-of-tales. he'd be very comfortable hanging wit
Jason Pettus
May 03, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it
This is one of four newish books I recently read mostly so I could finally get them off my queue list, all of which were actually pretty good but are mere wisps of manuscripts, none of them over 150 pages or so in length. And indeed, Nick Tosches' The Last Opium Den was first published as a simple magazine article in Vanity Fair -- it was the edgy and controversial author's attempt at the turn of the millennium to see if there were any honest-to-God opium dens left on this planet, done up right ...more
Jul 18, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
very short, sly-as-shit essay about author's attempt to find a true-blue dive of an opium den. The bad news: it's not in new york city. The good news: he succeeds, albeit in southeast asia. the writing, as his always is, no matter what he's writing about, will charm the pants off you and your significant other.
Erin Cataldi
Feb 26, 2014 Erin Cataldi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
I loved this book! This short little essay was phenomenal! Nick Tosches wondered what happened to the opium trade and opium debts so he went off to Asia in search for any remaining traces of it. There was literally none, none to be found in the United States so Nick decided to try his luck elsewhere. His life goal was to try opium, and not just to try it, but smoke it, in an opium den with brocade hangings and buxom women. He soon discovers that he may have dreamed a little too big because opium ...more
I've read several of Nick Tosches' longish pieces in various magazine. He is a very good writer. There are passages in this book that are incredibly lyrical. His descriptions of his opiated high are often fabulous.

And yet, the book is just too short. We barely scratch the surface of what is actually a very deep subject. Tosches skirted around the edges of his subject, but didn't really take the time to engage with it.

I would've much preferred it if he had interspersed his personal vignettes with
Nov 05, 2007 Mike rated it really liked it
In 70 pages, Tosches travels Asia searching for what everyone tells him no longer exists--the traditional opium den. It's a great read and quick, but so sad that when Tosches goes to his underground contacts for information, everyone seems to think he's looking for underage sex commerce, and is more than willing to hook him up. I kinda couldn't shake that part. That aside, this is the first book I've read of his, but definitely want to read more.
Dec 30, 2009 Wayne rated it really liked it
Basically a short story about his search for the opium den of old. What I enjoyed the most though were his few pages devoted to wine and it's followers. I paraphrase here: If a true wine expert or judge can denote hints of the soil the grape was grown in or the type of water (well, spring or rain) than why does he not describe the pesticide flavor nodes or hints of the type of manure fertilizer used in the bouquet of a fine bottle? He goes on for a few pages and it's pretty funny stuff.
Natalie Buttrey
Dec 12, 2012 Natalie Buttrey rated it really liked it
This is a book that I remember as my first introduction to fantastical writing. I read this from its original printing in Vanity Fair when I was in grade 12. It evoked a desire to search for something that does not exist any longer but fostered a hope that maybe I could find something as magical as the descriptions that are found within these pages. A quick read. But beware that you might want a dictionary on hand to navigate through the language.
Jul 03, 2008 Norman rated it it was amazing
Tosches' prose is a fever dream, an endless opium high, and a stilleto blade across your brain. He leads you on a quest and you only realize how far you have gone when you can't get back.

This was originally an article in Vanity Fair. The book made it feel substantive and something vaguely illicit to pass on to others.
Feb 14, 2013 Reacher rated it liked it
if this one sitting read doesn't make you want to smoke opium--not drink or eat or shoot but smoke--i don't know what will. i read it in print but found that this essay is available online at
Ellen Johnson
Jan 22, 2013 Ellen Johnson rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Gee, I wish I could write an essay and have it published as a book. Very short book about a guy who wants to smoke opium and gets his editors to send him on a trip to the far east to try to find a way to do it (it is apparently all turned into heroin these days). pretentious language.
Apr 24, 2016 Harvey rated it liked it
- from the jacket: "Driven by romantic, spiritual, and medicinal imperatives, Nick Tosches leaves the numbing creature comforts of New York behind in search of something everyone tells him no longer exists: an opium den."
Aug 02, 2009 Peter rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Nick Tosches search for a rumoured last Opium Den in the world is a meditation on the nature of pleasure and worth. Tosches is a wild writer with an eclectic array of knowledge and a peripatetic sense of adventure and story telling.
Jul 26, 2009 Keith rated it it was amazing
If you aren't read Tosches, get into it!

Originally published as a Vanity Fair article, this is a story of Tosches' life long pursuit to smoke opium in a real opium den. He describes his travels and experiences in a way that makes you wish you were there.

Highly recommended.
Aug 08, 2008 mia rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf
this was so interesting. and a quick read. the language and the experience, just amazing. the author's search for an opium den in today's time- a true adventure, an authentic experience.
May 03, 2007 Jamil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drugs, favorites
"if you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
Jan 31, 2009 Chika rated it it was amazing
A quick, short and delicious read. It combines adventure with world events and personal evaluation. Tosches writing is smart and poetic.
Sep 24, 2007 R. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007
A slim volume of hope.
Sarah O'toole
Sarah O'toole rated it really liked it
Dec 23, 2014
Alice rated it really liked it
Jun 28, 2008
Tori rated it really liked it
Jan 06, 2012
JoHnny de-Lux
JoHnny de-Lux rated it really liked it
Dec 01, 2012
Jon Yates
Jon Yates rated it really liked it
Jul 28, 2011
Bobo rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2011
Jason rated it really liked it
Sep 21, 2013
Drury rated it really liked it
Oct 03, 2012
Sparrow rated it it was amazing
Mar 02, 2015
Steve Wilson
Steve Wilson rated it really liked it
Nov 03, 2016
Stephanie rated it it was ok
Feb 06, 2016
Monica Garcia
Monica Garcia rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2011
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Nick Tosches was born in Newark, New Jersey, and raised by wolves from the other side. Through nepotism he became a barroom porter at the age of fourteen. Casting this career to the wind in his quest for creative fulfillment, he became a paste-up artist for the Lovable Underwear Company in New York City. On January 12, 1972, he went to lunch and never came back, drifting south to Florida, where, a ...more
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