Psychonauts: Drugs and the Making of the Modern Mind

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$32.50  $30.23
Yale University Press
Publish Date
6.38 X 9.25 X 1.28 inches | 1.6 pounds

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About the Author
Mike Jay has written extensively on scientific and medical history and contributes regularly to the London Review of Books and the Wall Street Journal. His previous books on the history of drugs include Mescaline, High Society, and The Atmosphere of Heaven.
"Jay is a leading expert on the history of Western drug use, and Psychonauts is the latest in a series of excellent studies in which he has investigated the roots of a kind of psychoactive exploration that we tend to associate with the nineteen-fifties and sixties."--Clare Bucknell, New Yorker

"In this richly detailed and frequently illuminating book, Mike Jay argues that Davis and Weil were merely reviving a centuries-long tradition--inebriation in the name of science."--Rhys Blakely, Times (UK)

"The history is captivating, and [Jay] does a great job balancing research with vivid anecdotes and fascinating excerpts from cultural figures' writings. It's a welcome reconsideration of the role drugs play in life, medicine, and science."--Publishers Weekly

"Author Mike Jay . . . is among our finest big-picture analysts and popular historians of global intoxicants. . . . [Psychonauts] is [a] wide-ranging and lavishly illustrated account."--Lucas Richert, Science

"Jay's been writing for years. . . . This book is like a medley . . . of the earlier works that Jay did looking at the history of drug-taking in modernity. . . . [He] has woven them all together into this remarkable story."--Erik Davis on The Ezra Klein Show

"Fascinating. . . . Complex and riveting. . . . Readers should anticipate quite a trip."--Tony Miksanek, Booklist

"Mike Jay is at the forefront of global research on the history of psychoactive substances. In this moment of renaissance in research on the mind-altering properties of psychedelics, Jay's Psychonauts offers crucial intel and historical perspective."--Marcus Boon, author of The Road of Excess

"A thought-provoking history of the pioneering questers who self-experimented with drugs in the name of science and creativity. Mike Jay's account of coked-up doctors, hashish-eating poets, mushroom-munching mystics and toad-licking scientists is an exhilarating read."--Anna Katharina Schaffner, author of The Art of Self-Improvement

"With this rich, nuanced account, Mike Jay posits the War on Drugs as a mere blip on the long, proud, and very influential history of self-experimentation with psychoactive substances by artists, scientists and philosophers--the titular explorers of the mind."--Carlyn Zwarenstein, author of On Opium

"With elegance and erudition, Mike Jay conveys the fascinating, often quixotic history of scientists, philosophers, and other daring 'psychonauts' self-experimenting with a pharmacopeia of substances, exploring the mysteries of consciousness by chemically altering the brain. Jay deftly guides the reader through the most confounding puzzles about our mind's pictures of reality; about meaning-making, truth and illusion. A gorgeously written, page-turning pleasure to read."--Brian D. Earp, author of Love Is the Drug

"Breezy and profound, Psychonauts is a wildly entertaining history of drugs through the writings of stoned intellectuals like Sigmund Freud, William James, and Baudelaire. They got high, saw God, tried to articulate the experience, and mostly failed. But their attempts, like this book, are a total blast."--Ben Westhoff, author of Fentanyl, Inc.