This collection of essays explores the complex and contested histories of drugs and narcotics in societies from ancient Greece to the present day. It shows that the major substances so used, from herbs of the field to laboratory-produced synthetic medicines, have a healing potential, and have been widely employed both within and outside the medical profession. Many of these substances, if taken improperly, are also highly toxic or even lethally poisonous. Some, being mood-influencing and habit-forming, are open to abuse and lead to addiction and are even objects of international contraband trade and the targets of "drug wars."
"The essays are informed, incisive, and reflective, each one historically valuable, each presenting its subject in a broad social and intellectual context. Each may contain lessons useful in today's confrontation with a continuing problem." New England Journal of Medicine "...[the] essays are fascinating, erudite and illuminating...a worthwhile endeavor for the compulsive history reader." Journal of the American Medical Association "Edited books rarely display the uniform excellence found in Drugs and Narcotics In History. It is both a selective history of medicine and an insightful introduction to the place of drugs in Western society. The editors deserve praise for the range of topics and for their deft editorial hand...That harm-reduction policies will suffer in the process is the implicit lesson throughout this superb book. Drugs and Narcotics in History deserves the widest possible audience." The Historian