Review by Choice Review
The professional life of Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann (1906-2008), who discovered and synthesized LSD and conducted extensive studies on its physiological, psychological, and pharmacological properties, forms the framework for this well-written, informative biography. The book also intersperses accounts of research by other scientists working with drugs related to LSD in terms of their activity. Hagenbach (journalist) and Werthmuller (consciousness researcher/parapsychologist) were friends of Hofmann and are involved in the promotion of LSD for its effects on consciousness. They regard Hofmann's contributions as an epoch and Hofmann its icon. If there is a recognizable bias, self-experimentation with LSD is treated favorably "to experience one's essence." Readers will quickly become overwhelmed with the names of the scientists involved (a listing is three and one-half multicolumned pages in length) as well as the plethora of related terms, such as hallucinogenic, psychoactive, psychotic, psychotropic, psychedelic, psychomimetic, psycholytic, entheogen, phantastica, and psychosomatic. The soft-cover tome, printed on heavy, glossy paper, weighs over three pounds; every visually attractive page features numerous color photographs and highlighted inserts of short quotations. An appendix includes a list of Hofmann's publications. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. R. S. Kowalczyk formerly, University of Michigan
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
This detailed account of the career and influence of the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann captures the character but not the brilliance of its subject. Born in 1906, Hofmann's life spans over a period of unprecedented technological change and industrial advancement but marred by the devastation of the world wars. Hagenbach and Wertmuller cover Hofmann's early discoveries up to the twenty-fifth attempt at a derivative, the one that would make him famous and infamous, LSD-25. They follow the thread of his discovery into 1960s, the Beats, the CIA, and further, including the eventual imprisonment of users, many of whom Hofmann contacted sympathetically. At times the book comes across as pre-emptively defensive, written like a strange leaflet handed out in the street. The authors fail to sound credible, for example, when describing a conference attended by "more than eighty well-known scientists, drug experts, artists and observers from around the world." Dozens of boxed quotes- from random cultural figures of the time-distract from the main text and undermine the authors' attempt at a comprehensive biographical or even cultural study. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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