Book Review—WE SELL DRUGS: The Alchemy of US Empire by Suzanna Reiss (2014)

Blog of the American Studies Journal

We Sell Drugs Suzanna ReissWE SELL DRUGS: The Alchemy of US Empire. By Suzanna Reiss. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2014.

Suzanna Reiss, in We Sell Drugs, presents a novel and compelling argument about our changing notion of the war on drugs. She argues that the war is not, and never has been, actually about “drugs” at all. Instead, the drug war has long been centered on policing the boundaries between the licit and illicit and exercising increasingly international systems of control, whether that applies to people and their behavior, substances and their use, or the actions that governments and corporations take to preserve their grasp on profit and power. Her intensive research into the post-war activities of groups like the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the American Pharmaceutical Association show how controlling licit and illicit drugs was instrumental in developing the role of American hegemonic imperial power that developed in the years…

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