chasing the scream

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About the Book

It is now 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world are beginning to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.

In his New York Times best-selling book Chasing the Scream, Hari reveals his discoveries entirely through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. They range from a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn searching for her mother, to a teenage hit-man in Mexico searching for a way out. It begins with Hari’s discovery that at the birth of the drug war, Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the man who launched this crusade – while it ends with the story of a brave doctor who has led his country to decriminalize every drug, from cannabis to crack, with remarkable results.

Chasing the Scream lays bare what we really have been chasing in our century of drug war – in our hunger for drugs, and in our attempt to destroy them. This book will challenge and change how you think about one of the most controversial – and consequential – questions of our time.


Praise for “Chasing the Scream”

“Johann Hari’s book is the perfect antidote to the war on drugs, one of the most under-discussed moral injustices of our time. It combines rigorous research and deeply human story-telling. It will prompt an urgently-needed debate’

– Glenn Greenwald, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“A terrific book.”

– Bill Maher

“An absolutely stunning book. It will blow people away.”

– Elton John

“Superb journalism and thrilling story-telling.”

– Naomi Klein, author of No Logo

“Wonderful… I couldn’t put it down.”

– Noam Chomsky

“An astounding book.”

– Amy Goodman, host of ‘Democracy Now’

“This book is, forgive the obvious phrase, screamingly addictive. The story it tells, jaw-droppingly horrific, hilarious and incredible, is one everyone should know: that it is all true boggles the mind, fascinates and infuriates in equal measure. Johann Hari, in brilliant prose, exposes one of the greatest and most harmful scandals of the past hundred years.”

– Stephen Fry

“This book is as intoxicatingly thrilling as crack, without destroying your teeth. It will change the drug debate forever.”

– Russell Brand

“Incredibly insightful and provocative.”

– B.J. Novak, writer of ‘The Office’

“Check out Johann Hari’s extraordinary new book Chasing the Scream, one of the best books I’ve ever read about the world of drugs”

– Touré, MSNBC

“Johann Hari has written a drug policy reform book like no other. Many have studied, or conducted, the science surrounding the manifold ills of drug prohibition. But Hari puts it all into riveting story form, and humanizes it… Part Gonzo journalism, part Louis CK standup, part Mark Twain storytelling, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs is beautifully wrought: lively, humorous, and poignant. And, it’s a compelling case for why the drug war must end, yesterday.”

– Norman Stamper, former chief of the Seattle Police

“In this energetic and thought-proving book, Hari harnesses the power of the personal narrative to reveal the true causes and consequences of the War on Drugs.”

– David Nutt, former chief scientific advisor on drugs to the British government

“Breath-taking… A powerful contribution to an urgent debate”

– John Harris, The Guardian

“A testament to Hari’s skill as a writer”

– The New York Times


– The Financial Times

“A riveting book”

– The San Francisco Chronicle


– Piers Morgan

“This book is an entertainment, a great character study and page-turning storytelling all rolled into one very sophisticated and compelling cry for social justice.”

– Stephen Downing, formerly in charge of the Narcotics Division of the Los Angeles Police Department

“Amazing and bracing and smart. It’s really revolutionary.”

– Dan Savage

“Scary and terrific”

– John Safran

“Incredibly powerful”

– Caroline Lucas

“It’s incredibly entertaining. It’s enormously emotionally affecting… It really is an extraordinary book”

– Vanessa Feltz, BBC London


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