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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Important Thesis Undercut by Lax Source Attribution

By Ryan Grim:This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America [Hardcover] - Ryan Grim

This is an important, sweeping history and condemnation of the War on Drugs, full of real-world anecdotes and statistics to back up the premise that every time the government or prohibition movements manage to crack down on one substance, Americans shift to using another, making "progress" in prohibition impossible. The chapters on the hypocrisy of U.S. global policy vis-à-vis U.S. drug policy to be especially thought provoking--(e.g., evidence the CIA aided and abetted opium/heroin traffickers in Laos in the 60s-70s, aided and abetted cocaine traffickers in Latin America in the 80s by working with the Contras, and the U.S. military turning an intentional blind eye to opium use and trafficking in Afghanistan today--even though the narcotics trade funds the Taliban). As entertaining as it was informative, I found myself laughing out loud page after page.


My one fairly significant complaint (and it's a doozy) is Mr. Grim's laissez-faire approach to source attribution. Although this book is brim-full of statistics, there are no footnotes, endnotes, or even a bibliography. The 250-page book is followed by a 3-page "Notes" section that provides references to major sources in only glancing detail, but without anything approaching the specificity a reader would need to go look up the source on one's own. I suspect this stems from Grim's background as a journalist: no one wants their newspaper all cluttered up with footnotes and parentheticals, of course. However, a serious academic endeavor such as a full-length book requires far more detailed source attribution. In the "Notes" section and at several points in the text, Grim writes that he will post links to sources--particularly the numerous studies from which he gleans his many statistics--on his website,YourCountryOnDrugs.com, but as of this posting, that website appears not to exist. My own experience and world view make me predisposed to agree with most of Grim's theories, but the lack of attribution leaves me skeptical: I fear that those who support the country's current drug policies will point to the lack of citation (as well as Grim's unapologetic narratives of his own drug experiences) to undercut the legitimacy of his argument, and that would be a shame.