Shooting Up: A Short History of Drugs and War


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.3 X 1.4 inches | 1.5 pounds

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About the Author

Lukasz Kamienski is Associate Professor at the Faculty of International and Political Studies, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland


"Who knew that an historical, scholarly psychopharmacology of soldiering could be a page-turner? It shocks, drives self-reflection, intellectual excitement, fury at hypocrisy, and that third Aristotelian katharsis: mental clarification. Above all, this is a book for citizens." - Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD, former MacArthur Fellow, Author of Achilles in Vietnam, Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character and Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming

"Flipping the war on drugs, Kamienski gives us drugs at war, from the Greeks to high-tech armies, from drugs as tools of combat to combat as a drug itself. Starting with alcohol and opium, and ending in Hurt Locker territory, Shooting Up offers a novel and ambitious survey of a most timely topic." David Courtwright, author of Forces of Habit

"Not only the definitive history of intoxication in warfare, this beautifully written book offers a deeply informed humanistic perspective on the addictiveness of war itself. Insights from Nietzsche, first-person accounts from combat, military scholarship, and biological explanations are woven together into a seamless analysis that should be required reading." - Chris Hables Gray, author of Postmodern War: The New Politics of Conflict

"In Shooting Up: A Short History of Drugs and War, Lukasz Kamienski provides a diligent examination, keen view, and detailed discussion of the implications of the long standing, and often controversial use of drugs in military operations. Shooting Up is a most interesting read that makes an excellent contribution to the literature." - Prof. James Giordano, Department of Neurology, Georgetown University Medical Center

"An impressive and accessible deep dive into the makes for a bracing and fascinating study." -- Publishers Weekly

"In his profound, troubling, and deeply informative book, Kamienski investigates the relationship between intoxicants and warfare... With official approval and encouragement, the use of certain kinds of drugs has become widespread in militaries-and so, too, have addiction, sluggish and erratic behavior, and even hallucinations and paranoia. Kamienski's rich study starts with ancient Greece but mostly examines events from the last few centuries, including the Opium Wars and the Vietnam War, which the author dubs "the first true pharmacological war." --Lawrence D. Freedman, Foreign Affairs

"Absorbing and comprehensive."-- The Intercept

"Fascinating, immensely detailed and surprisingly sober... [A] rich and compendious book." -- The Sunday Times

"An engaging read...a pharmacopoeia of interesting military history, medical research and cultural anecdote." -- VICE magazine

"Those who want to build their own thoughts about the direction of drugged wars would be best served by starting with Kamienski's highly impressive work."-- War on the Rocks

"Exceedingly informative... [A] gem of a work produced by a little-known, yet brilliant, academic."--Parameters

"Kamienski has written an engaging book that testifies to the importance of drug use to the larger story of war in the human experience. The many myths he helps debunk speaks to the frequent manipulation of public opinion by governments and the media and to the convenience of drugs as a scapegoat for policy failures that invariably end up being repeated."-- Journal of Social History

"Much of [Kamienski's] narrative is fascinating, plenty of it is new, and he advances some serious arguments."-- Allan Mallinson, The Spectator

"In this compelling book about the history and prevalence of alcohol and drugs throughout the history of warfare, Kamienski reveals in copious detail the countless ways 'intoxication, in its various forms, has... been one of the distinctive features' of human life."-- Antony Loewenstein, The Guardian

"Kamienski's book is the first comprehensive history of drugs... and is sure to become a classic."-- Geoffrey Roberts, Irish Examiner

"Shooting Up should be read for its relentless cataloguing of the role that intoxicants have been put to in the ceaseless history of human depravity."-- Stuart Walton, Hong Kong Review of Books

"An original and weighty survey of drug use by combatants... [Kamienski] deserves promotions and rewards. He deals in ideas of danger, risk-taking, euphoria, pain, disinhibitions and fright... He demonstrates conclusively that intoxication is a natural and necessary state for most fighting men." -- Richard Davenport-Hines, The Oldie

"Stories of military drug use are common, but this new work gives the reader a well-organized, closely documented history replete with examples." -- Military Heritage

"The author takes the reader on a journey through time... Shooting Up is a great contribution to the literature on that fundamental resource that is essential to combat"-- Louis Lillywhite, The World Today

"Kamienski has undertaken a sprawling subject, one that involves covering much ground in time and space... [and] his chapters on the Cold War suggest an imaginative attempt to recount the psychoactive residues of the war on communism and latter-day war communism."--H-Net

"Shooting Up is a valuable primer for military historians seeking to understand the enduring role of drugs in combat."--Michigan War Studies Review

"Shooting Up is indeed a great book. The author's breathtaking description of the interaction of drugs and war--likely to precede any historical source--is truly fascinating."
--Perspectives on Politics