Bill Wallace's Reviews > Divine Rascal

Divine Rascal by Andy Roberts
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really liked it

A clear account, given the erratic life of the subject, of the unlikely career of Michael Hollingshead, "the man who turned on the world." In other works about his era, Hollingshead appears as a will-o-wisp, here turning on Tim Leary, there feeding acid to Donovan, dosing a Russian agent in a British jail. He shows up, in fact, in so many episodes of mid-century psychedelic history that he appears almost mythical. This book pretty effectively deflates the myths, reveling Hollingshead as occasionally brilliant, influential, and charismatic, but ultimately a con-man who used and abused almost everyone whose path he crossed. It's a sad story but also an illuminating history of its times and the insanity that characterized acid culture, though it also does a fair job of showing the positive effects of LSD on western consciousness and culture.

The only thing I would like to have seen more of is an examination of exactly why so many people seem to think Hollingshead was a spook of some sort, one of the minor mysteries that seem to cloud around the dark edges of the 60s and 70s counterculture. Roberts does a fair job of deflecting the accusations and indeed it's tough to imagine any competent intelligence outfit, British or American, employing so damaged an agent, but I was left with the feeling that the subject had been given a shrug rather than a proper discussion.

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Reading Progress

November 26, 2019 – Started Reading
November 26, 2019 – Shelved
November 29, 2019 – Finished Reading

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