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Books

Pumped up and dangerous: going to war on drugs

Most soldiers are addicts, according to Lukasz Kamienski: even first world war combatants were permanently high on cocaine

21 May 2016

9:00 AM

21 May 2016

9:00 AM

Shooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare Lukasz Kamienski

C. Hurst & Co, pp.400, £25, ISBN: 9781849045513

‘Of all civilisation’s occupational categories, that of soldier may be the most conducive to regular drug use.’

The problem with this statement — the first words of this book — is the problem with the book as a whole: it may be correct, and there again it may not be. Even the captionless cover photograph is ambiguous: of an American soldier, in Vietnam perhaps, with a corncob pipe which may or may not contain a banned substance, though we are obviously meant to infer that it does.

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