ACID: The Secret History of LSD

By David Black

David Black has contributed a long overdue new history of LSD that does not retread Martin Lee and Bruce Shlain's excellent Acid Dreams (1985) and does not fictionalize the topic like other recent books (Wisdom's Maw). ACID, in fact, is the first piece of substantial research and writing about the figure of Ron Stark, international drug supplier, since Stewart Tendler and David May's obscure book, The Brotherhood of Eternal Love (1984). Stark worked with the Brotherhood, ostensibly overseeing the transformation of acid consumption from recreational pleasure to international mafia marketing and black profiteering. Author Black sets out to track Stark's career and who was behind his emergence as an LSD don during this process. In so doing, he recounts among other things the experiences of Chicago born psychology and parapsychology student Steve Abrams, a major source for much of the information here. Abrams not only corresponded with Carl Jung about synchronicity in the late 1950s, but he was on hand as J. B. Rhine corresponded with Richard Nixon; lectured on ESP in Leningrad at the invitation of the neuroscientist Vailiev, whose work informed Lincoln Lawrence's Were We Controlled?; and started Arthur Koestler off in a direction that ended with Koestler teaming up with Tim Leary for a mushroom experience. Any reader who thinks this history has been mined for all of its pertinent and fascinating detail, concerning MKULTRA, the Human Ecology Fund, and most especially the criminal and entepreneurial activities of Stark, will be quite surprised by this book. In 1975 Stark was arrested on drug charges in Italy, and this book's chapter illuminates that period with new information on his P2 Masonic Lodge connections and Stark's prediction of the kidnapping and assassination of Italian PM Aldo Moro. ACID adds voluminous information about the "strategy of tension" during this period of Italian history, one so similar to the post-OKC Bomb US political climate, as noted and discussed in Len Bracken's recent work. As history and as sub-text to current affairs, this books makes an extraordinary contribution. It leaves open the possibility that Stark still may be alive. [An additonal note: The book's back cover calls Timothy Leary one of Mary Pinchot Meyer's former lovers, a claim that has not been made previously. Even Leary never suggested that he shared a girlfriend with JFK.]

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Nicholas Sand