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Sources PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Ingliss   
Sunday, 20 February 2011 00:00

Sources

IN HIS BOOK ON COCA, PUBLISHED IN 1901, W. G. MORTIMER WAS able to boast that he had collected 600 titles of articles and books on that drug alone. The bibliography compiled a few years ago by the U.N. Economic and Social Committee on Narcotic Drugs listed nearly 2,000 sources of material on cannabis. In its interim report on drugs in Canada, the Le Dain Committee stated that there were already some 3,000 reports on LSD in scientific journals. When Joseph Robert wrote his history of tobacco, in 1949, the standard research guide contained over 6,000 titles; when he came to revise the book in 1967, he found that the guide, which was also being revised, was expected to include a further 4,000 titles. Nobody, so far as I know, has tried to keep count of the works on opium and its derivatives, but they would certainly reach five figures. As for alcohol, the library at Rutgers University, which specialises in the subject, is reputed to contain 40,000 items.

The writer of any work purporting to be a history is ordinarily anxious that his bibliography should display the extent and depth of his research; in admitting that mine has been far from comprehensive, I can only plead these figures in mitigation. And there has been another difficulty. As my concern had been mainly with the social rather than the pharmacological effects of drugs, several academic disciplines have been involved. Information about attitudes to drugs can be found not only in many social histories, but in works on anthropology, ethnology, mythology, theology, phenomenology, ecology, etymology and archeology, as well as in the descriptions of travellers, explorers and botanists. It has consequently been an enormous advantage when some professional — or an inspired amateur, like R. G. Wasson — has already researched some part of the territory, and published his findings; but such ventures have been regrettably few.

There are also some gaps, which cannot be filled until more — or more reliable — information becomes available; drug use behind the Iron Curtain, for example. So the structure of the book, with each chapter devoted to a theme, is designed as far as possible to make use of the material which is available, to illustrate developments in attitudes, to, and legislation about, drugs, rather than to try to cover all the historical ground.

Where I have quoted from early sources, I have where necessary translated the text into modern English; standardised spelling (sometimes to personal preference: peyotl rather than the now more common peyote); and occasionally modified punctuation or grammar, for clarity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

For the sake of brevity, I have omitted standard histories, biographies, journals, etc.; nor have I listed the individual state papers which are the chief source of material for the later chapters. I have deposited a copy of the text containing precise source references with the Institute for th ç Study of Drug Dependence, 3 Blackburne Road, London, N.E.6.

The place and date of publication refer to the edition I have consulted, which is not necessarily the first edition.

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Our valuable member Brian Ingliss has been with us since Monday, 07 February 2011.

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