Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger's War on Drugs


Product Details

University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.1 X 1.2 inches | 1.55 pounds

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About the Author

Alexandra Chasin is associate professor of literary studies at Eugene Lang College, the New School. She is the author of several books of fiction and nonfiction.


"[A] well-researched, fresh take on an enduring controversy."-- "Library Journal"
"This ain't your grandpa's reefer madness but instead a swirling, energetic, decidedly offbeat history of a man and a time history has largely forgotten, and not for any lack of effort of his own."-- "Kirkus Reviews"
"In this idiosyncratic chronicle, Chasin paces the trail from temperance to today, when nearly half the inmates of US jails are incarcerated for drug offences. A sorry tale of how one man's racial prejudice and predilection for prohibition led to a colossal policy failure."-- "Nature"
"Assassin of Youth aims to disrupt existing representations of Anslinger and his drug policy by moving towards a 'creative nonfiction.' . . . Chasin's 'kaleidoscopic history' is thought-provoking."-- "Times Literary Supplement"
"Assassin of Youth is the most entertaining and inventive book on drug policy in the United States you'll ever read, which perhaps isn't saying much unless you're a government wonk. But for the rest of us, who have most likely never heard of Harry J. Anslinger and never given much consideration to the War on Drugs (except to mock it as an enormously expensive, racist, and Puritanical boondoggle), Chasin brilliantly marries the speculative prowess of a lyricist with the diligence and insight of an historian to create something wholly wondrous in its ambitions."-- "Robin Hemley, author of Reply All"
"Assassin of Youth is an extraordinary book: part biography, part cultural history, part lyric essay, part critique of a century of public policy--and from beginning to end a singular experiment in literary form. In a voice that is by turns rhythmic, interpretative, interrogative, ruminative, and digressive, Chasin makes daring leaps through space and time, showing us things about Harry Anslinger and the origins of prohibitionist drug policies that no one has shown us before. Chasin's prose is absorbing. Her point, timely, even urgent."-- "James Goodman, author of But Where Is the Lamb? Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac"