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Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  335 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
From the narcotic allure of the bebop and Beat generations to the psychedelic 1960s, Vietnam, the cocaine-fueled disco era, the crack epidemic, and the ecstasy-induced rave culture, illegal drugs have profoundly shaped America's cultural landscape. In Can't Find My Way Home, journalist and filmmaker Martin Torgoff chronicles what a long strange trip it's been as the Americ ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published May 9th 2005 by Simon Schuster (first published 2004)
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Diane Schneider
Aug 06, 2014 Diane Schneider rated it really liked it
This is less a straight up history of drug use in America than an experiential history, examining the personal experiences of those that got caught up in various drug cultures throughout the latter 20th century. The author still touches on the societal reasons that these drug cultures emerged and looks at the drug cultures at large, so it doesn't feel like an anthology of drug stories. That said, I found myself eager to return to these individuals to find out what happened to them as their stori ...more
Nick Huntington-Klein
Mar 07, 2014 Nick Huntington-Klein rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
An interesting take on drug use in the postwar United States. I get the sense that the book suffers from the way that Torgoff himself came into the world of drugs in the 60's. The fawning over the heroes of the beatnik and hippie eras can get overwrought to the point of comedy, and the tone shifts so abruptly when talking about any culture that isn't a direct recreation of the 60's (complete with reappearances from Ginsberg, Leary, etc.) that I found myself unwilling to trust the book's take. Ma ...more
David Ward
Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000 by Martin Torgoff (Simon & Schuster 2004) (306.1) is an outstanding book about drug use in American society. The book is ordered chronologically; each chapter presents discussion about various psychoactive substances as their use became prominent, usually as a function of their time. For instance, when the book opens, jazz and bebop were popular forms of music; the author discusses the use of heroin in the context of jazz. Ne ...more
B Ingle-Rector
Mar 04, 2009 B Ingle-Rector rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
I really appreciated the intimate approach this book took to the lives and experiences of specific musicians, artists, and cultural figures throughout America's history. To speak of drugs in some far off way lessens the immense impact that they made on the lives of people and on our culture as a whole. Presented in earnest neutrality, this text offers the reader a detailed and sobering account of drug use throughout the decades and its presence within the many cultural, artistic, and political m ...more
Aug 09, 2008 Catherine rated it it was ok
Perhaps if the reader has background knowledge on all the topics the author discusses, this book would be a good read. However, coming at it with virtually no knowledge of drugs and limited knowledge of the major events of the time period, I often found myself lost. The author assumes that the reader already has knowledge of the events/people which he writes about (i.e. the Manson murders, Andy Warhol, etc.) and therefore does not explain them.
Dec 01, 2007 Justin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in drugs, music, counter-culture
This books tracks the use of drugs in post-war America by interweaving music, culture and tales of drug-users, both famous and common. It does not glorify nor condemn drug use, rather it gives a balanced and captivating look at how drugs have shaped American culture for both good or bad.

Anyone interested in the counter-culture movements of the past century will find this book a very enjoyable read.
May 19, 2008 Monica rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone intersted to the link between drugs and creativity
This may become my bible. Torgoff explores history of the drug culture in america starting with the jazz musicians and beat poets. it is excellent! looks at how art/culture/drugs are connected, there are first hand accounts of people who were a part of it - johnny parker, miles davis, allan gisburg, kerouac, timothy leary, etc. i am only on page 100 but am loving it, making connections to so many ideas, and while I read I'm making a list of books and music I want to check out.
Jan 05, 2009 Christy rated it liked it
quick notes:

-didn't read it back to back. partly due to time constraints and partly because it was very exhaustive and not always interesting.

-good overview of certain cultural movements

-many chapters glorify drugs, but not all. all chapters seek to explain the reason particular drugs were embraced at a particular time.

Enjoyed reading it as I did.
Jul 30, 2013 Austin added it
Pretty okay; florid at times. Hard to tell whether this book was necessary or not. The chapters on Charlie Parker and the pre-Hippie use of drugs were interesting, but once it got into profiling famous hippies, it began to lose something for me. Overall, though, a pretty decent retrospective of the U.S.'s "drug years."
Michael S
May 04, 2014 Michael S rated it it was amazing
Great history of exactly what is says. interviews all of the principals including many of the pioneers (Hubert Huncke) and of course has a great discourse on the failures of the war on drugs-unless of course you have invested monies in private prisons and other failed policies of previous administrations
Derek Ellsworth
Jul 21, 2008 Derek Ellsworth rated it it was amazing
Wonder why the War on Drugs seems to be either not working or bogus from the beginning? How did drugs seep into our culture after WWII and explode in the 60's and 70's? This book has all those answers and took this guy 10 years to write it, but he got to interview all the big players.
Oct 03, 2007 Andrew rated it liked it
Really interesting for anyone who loves music or is interested in American culture, I keep picking it up and putting it down though. I get really into it and then he takes too long to make his point and I get tired of it again. One day I will finish.
May 23, 2008 Lauren rated it it was amazing
LOVED THIS BOOK. I don't know if it is bad that I loved this book as much as I did since it was all about drugs throughout the years and how they affected the music, art, and the youth of any particular decade. But I did. And I will admit it.
Oct 09, 2008 Kevin rated it really liked it
Really cool history of drug use in America. Great insight from many of the players in each era (Oliver Stone and Tom Robbins have some classic lines). Of course, a lot of it took place in the Bay Area so it was very interesting from that perspective.
Aug 23, 2010 Krystal rated it liked it
The book does not falter on interesting, if you need a history on drug use this book is it. I would only suggest you not read any other books when you read this one, it takes alot of focus. It's a book you only read once put on your shelf and feel good you finished.
Rob Schoenbach
Aug 28, 2009 Rob Schoenbach rated it it was amazing
The History of Drug Use in our country from the 40s on. It is amazing how he pin-points actual parties and moments where the tide changed from one drug to another. I think it also has a neat message and definitions for control and beyond control.
Jan 08, 2011 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I found out about this book when my hubby and I had been watching a drug show on either the history channel or some other cable channel. I was really interested on getting the history of drugs. I enjoyed the ride! It took me forever to finish, but well worth it.
Garrett Rowe
Sep 27, 2010 Garrett Rowe rated it really liked it
I enjoy this type of writing greatly to disect and attempt to understand the drug culture is interesting on many differing levels to me. I wouldnt say its the best writing but it does what it is suppossed to do.
Missjennjenn Hebb
Mar 31, 2013 Missjennjenn Hebb rated it it was amazing
Awesome! CA has its own chapter and that makes me proud!
Alan Thomas
Aug 30, 2009 Alan Thomas rated it it was amazing
An Important book. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. History, future, drug policy implications. Very well researched, written, great writing, fun and exciting and dangerous to read.
Sep 28, 2011 Erin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Awesome book! An epic look at drugs and American culture in modern history from an entertaining, in depth and non biased viewpoint...
Nov 22, 2008 Abby rated it it was amazing
This is a super interesting and readable account of the drug culture in the US with regards to the music world. Definitely a worthwhile book if you're into musical history and culture studies.
Jul 07, 2008 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
A great review of the drug usage between 1945-2000.
Mailbox Nine
Jan 25, 2011 Mailbox Nine rated it it was amazing
All the underground history of America that they didn't put in the history books....mind blowing
Mar 02, 2008 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Really long, but this guy went through a lot... and did a lot of drugs in the process. Entertaining and fused with my knowledge of social american history of the eras in his book.
A.Jay Wagner
Can't Find My Way Home: America in the Great Stoned Age, 1945-2000 by Martin Torgoff (2005)
Nov 02, 2007 Kelly is currently reading it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in drugs and music in American history within the past century
still learning - have learned a lot about Charlie Parker's influence in bringing heroin to Harlem.. also about the coining the words "beat" and "kicks"
Kristen Doherty
Dec 07, 2008 Kristen Doherty rated it liked it
stories about drugs, addiction, legalization, and much more about the drug world.
Stephanie Duffield
May 25, 2012 Stephanie Duffield rated it liked it
Not only an encyclopedia of the drugs available in Amercia for the last 60 years but also stories associated with those drugs illustrating there affects on the body and society.
Jan 31, 2008 Brittany rated it really liked it
This book is so long I was never able to finish it. However, what I did read was intriguing and enjoyable. I learned a lot about America's counter culture...
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