Crack in America is the definitive book on crack cocaine. In reinterpreting the crack story, it offers new understandings of both drug addiction and drug prohibition. It shows how crack use arose in the face of growing unemployment, poverty, racism, and shrinking social services. It places crack in its historical context—as the latest in a long line of demonized drugs—and it examines the crack scare as a phenomenon in its own right. Most important, it uses crack and the crack scare as windows onto America's larger drug and drug policy problems.
Written by a team of veteran drug researchers in medicine, law, and the social sciences, this book provides the most comprehensive, penetrating, and original analysis of the crack problem to date. It reviews the social pharmacology of crack and offers rich ethnographic case studies of crack binging, addiction, and sales. It explores crack's different impacts on whites, blacks, the middle class, and the poor, and explains why crack was always much less of a problem in other countries such as Canada, Australia, and The Netherlands.
Crack in America helps readers understand why the United States has the most repressive, expensive, and yet least effective drug policy in the Western world. It discusses the ways politicians and the media generated the crack scare as the centerpiece of the War on Drugs. It catalogues the costs of the War on Drugs for civil liberties, situates crack use and sales in the political economy of the inner cities in the 1980s, and shows how the drug war led to the most massive wave of imprisonment in U.S. history. Finally, it explains why the failures of drug prohibition have led to the emergence of the harm reduction movement and other opposition forces that are changing the face of U.S. drug policy.
Craig Reinarman is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Harry G. Levine is Professor of Sociology at Queens College and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
"The editors and authors have produced an important work in the ongoing debate about the effect and efficacy of U.S. drug policy. Authoritative in its analysis and comprehensive in its embrace, this work will contribute importantly to the policy debate. A must-read for anybody concerned about developing a strategy to improve the health and well-being of our communities."—Ronald Dellums, Member of Congress
"Crack in America is a devastating, sad, angry, though always scholarly book about the many failures of our national drug policy. The contributors make a convincing case that America is unable to solve the problems associated with crack because it is unwilling to deal with extreme economic and racial inequality except by stigmatizing and punishing the unequal. The book is of urgent importance—a powerfully persuasive and illuminating inquiry about America. I wish it could be required reading for the White House and all the agencies responsible for the country's drug problems."—Herbert J. Gans, Columbia University
"Indispensable for understanding the real roots of hard drug abuse in America's inner cities. It shows brilliantly how our drug policies have made our drug problem worse and points the way out of the drug war morass. A passionate and ultimately hopeful book."—Kurt Schmoke, Mayor of Baltimore
"Crack in America accurately and forcefully examines in detail the myth and the reality of crack. It is a must-read for any American concerned about drugs in our society and for any reader valuing honesty and scholarship compellingly presented."—Robert W. Sweet, U.S. District Judge
"A penetrating analysis by a variety of scholars which explodes many of the government propagated myths regarding crack cocaine."—Joseph D. McNamara, Stanford University
"Reinarman, Levine and their colleagues bring a keen sociological sensibility to their analysis of our contemporary moral panic. These essays make clear that crack policy is more the problem than the so-called crack epidemic. And they go on to disentangle the intricate ways in which American culture and economy, and particularly our racism, classicism and sexism, are implicated both in the use of crack and its repression."—Frances Fox Piven, Dept. of Political Science, CUNY Graduate Center
"Scholarly, lucid, and readable. . .the most original and thoughtful analysis of the American crack panic. The contributors demonstrate compellingly the relationship between social justice and public health."—Lester Grinspoon, M.D., Harvard Medical School
"An immensely rich book and an extraordinary source of information. . . . Since crack is not only America's but the world's latest demon drug, and since rational alternatives to repression are at the order of the day the world over, the book is indispensable reading for concerned students, scholars, politicians, and citizens everywhere."—Henner Hess, Goethe-Universitat (Frankfurt, Germany)