The "Godfather of Ecstasy," whose name is Alexander Shulgin (though his friends call him Sasha ... and his critics, much worse). Image © Brian Vastag

Ecstacy: The MDMA Story

Bruce Eisner

With large numbers of young people taking illegal drugs, it wasn't long before Parliament had passed a number of increasingly harsh laws against MDMA and against raves themselves. To avoid police harassment, raves moved from traditional nightclub venues to less predictable locations such as empty warehouses and open fields along the "Orbital," the highway encircling London.

Publisher: Ronin
Paperback: 196 pages


Dictionary of Symbolism

Hans Biedermann

This book was compiled in German in 1989 and translated in 1992. The most modern symbol discussed is the UFO. There are over 2,000 entries. The symbols are drawn from mostly classical sources such as fairy tales, legends, the Bible, folklore, mythology, philosophy and religion. The writing is direct and succinct. There aren't a lot of really obscure symbols. Most of the proper names are derived from Greek mythology, Germanic lore and the Bible. Otherwise the symbols tend to be things like eyes, thresholds and lions. When a symbol, such as the cat, has had a variety of meanings over the years, the author attempts to chronicle its meanings in as many contexts as possible. Overview is the operative mode of this book. It's the sort of thing that you might pull off of the shelf during a conversation to check a general fact. SA

Publisher: Facts on File
Hardback: 480 pages

Dictionary of Symbols

Carl G. Liungman

“The intention of this book is that it should function as both a reference work in Western cultural history and as a tool for those working with ideograms, e.g., logotype and trademark designers, those engaged in advertising, interior designers, researchers in communication, art historians, art and history teachers, etc.”
This is an amazingly well-conceived book. Dealing with non-iconic symbols (defined as pictures not easily recognized as depictions of objects), it breaks down hundreds of possible combinations of shapes into their most basic component aspects and lists any meanings which they might have in a broad range of Western cultural contexts. These symbols range from technical, astrological, alchemical, mathematical, elemental, to even a “hobo sign.” The categories have such titles as: “Asymmetric, straight-lined, open signs with crossing lines” and “Multi axis symmetric, both soft and straight-lined closed signs with crossing lines.” But if that doesn't compute with the side of the brain the reader uses, there is a chart in the back for visually locating symbols and the page numbers where their meanings appear. The signs can have a meaning which might be of a different context than a reader might have considered, making this a fun book to sit and read, even though its organization would suggest that its major application might be as a reference book. SA

Publisher: Norton
Paperback: 596 pages

Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell

Aldous Huxley

Pioneering literary account of the psychedelic experience and its relation to art and mysticism.

Publisher: HarperCollins
Paperback: 185 pages

Down Syndrome: Living and Learning in the Community

L. Nadel and D. Rosenthal

Written under the auspices of the National Syndrome Society, this book provides state-of-the-art information and advice about the latest medical advances, information about programs and services available to people with Down syndrome, and commentaries by young adults with Down syndrome, who describe in their own words their feelings and accomplishments and offer indispensable advice. “Many people recognize me from my role as Corky Thatcher on Life Goes On, an ABC-TV series for many years. Corky has Down syndrome and so do I. Only I call it Up syndrome, because having Down syndrome has never made me feel down.”—Christopher Burke

Publisher: Wiley
Paperback: 297 pages

Dreamachine Plans

Brion Gysin

Detailed plans, along with an introduction, for the assembly of one’s very own Dreamachine. AK

Publisher: Temple
Pamphlet: 24 pages

Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness

Dr. David Weeks and Jamie James

“This book summarizes findings from the first systematic study of 'eccentrics': highly talented and unusual people who are somewhere between 'normal' and 'nuts.' This is a domain occupied by genuine geniuses and charming crackpots whose common feature is that they refuse to hold commonly held beliefs or refuse to act in accordance with the norms of society. Filled with fascinating case studies such as the story of Joshua Abraham Norton who, from 1859 to 1880, proclaimed himself to be Emperor of America.”

Publisher: Kodansha
Paperback: 277 pages

Ecstacy: The MDMA Story

Bruce Eisner

The social history of the acid-house party pill. “A trance dance of random patterns and thrashing extremities and faces bathed in sweat and bliss-blank, glazed, open, innocent. Is it rapture? Or is it the drugs?” Chronicles the mind-altering compound methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, the techno-shamanic boogie booster of self-esteem. Chapters on “the flip flops in its legal status, psychological effects, erotic implications, methods of use, possible future, chemical structure,” and more. GR

Publisher: Ronin
Paperback: 196 pages

Ecstatic Religion: A Study of Shamanism and Spirit Possession

I.M. Lewis

“Looks at the biochemical, psychological, aesthetic, religious and sociocultural aspects of possession in African shamanism, the classical shamanistic religions of arctic Asia and South America, Haitian voodoo, the cult of Dionysus, Christian mysticism and other manifestations of spiritual ecstasy.”

Publisher: Routledge
Paperback: 224 pages

The Elixir: An Alchemical Study of the Ergot Mushrooms

William Scott Shelley

“Looks at the presence and uses of the ergot fungus plant throughout history.”

Publisher: CrossRoads
Hardback: 200 pages

The Emperor Wears No Clothes: The Authoritative Historical Record of the Cannabis Plant, Marijuana Prohibition, and How Hemp Can Still Save the World

Jack Herer

“Marijuana has been known to humankind for untold thousands of years. Government has attempted to prohibit its use for the past 50… all previous attempts at prohibition have been dismal failures: people are simply not deterred from marijuana usage because of its illegality. Yet the prohibition continues, and vast amounts of time , energy and money are spent in the effort. This enlightening book details the history of marijuana, the history of its prohibition, and the present state of the pharmacological facts about the herb… Well-documented, often startling and sometimes outrageous, but never less than fascinating, and above all, a thoroughly enjoyable, not to mention educational experience.”

Publisher: Hemp/Queen of Clubs
Paperback: 260 pages