The author is an established British journalist. In the “Introduction” he explains that his research took him “across nine countries and thirty thousand miles, and it would last for three years (p. 2).” At the end of the Introduction, the author writes:
It turns out that many of our most basic assumptions about this subject are wrong. Drugs are not what we think they are. Drug addiction is not what we have been told it is. The drug war is not what our politicians have sold it as for one hundred years and counting. And there is a very different story out there waiting for us when we are ready to hear it – one that should leave us thrumming with hope (p. 3).
I confess at the outset that so much of his material corresponded to what I have known as a longstanding practitioner in the criminal justice field. Part I is called “Mount Rushmore”. Chapter 1 is entitled “The Black Hand”. The start of the war on drugs, the first shot fired, is by Harry Anslinger, whose face would be one of three carved into a Mount Rushmore for drug prohibition. The author proceeds to tell his story, one of many throughout the book. The first scream “chased” in the drug war was none other than that of Anslinger’s own mother, who, Anslinger as a twelve-year-old discovered, was an addict. He learned his lesson from her screams: that drugs were the great “unhinging agent”. Hari writes:
When he grew into a man, this boy was going to draw together some of the deepest fears in American culture – of racial minorities, of intoxication, of losing control – and channel then into a global war to prevent those screams. It would cause many screams in turn. They can be heard in almost every city on earth tonight. This is how Harry Anslinger entered the drug war (p. 8).
We read similar accounts of how others entered the drug war: