The Candy Machine: How Cocaine Took Over the World

Recommendation: Not a waste of time by any means

Where to read: Nowhere near kids

Read with: Hipster, organic cola (and, if you’re into cocaine, willingness to be confronted with your complicity in mass murder)

In brief: Cutting, personal rather than scholarly, probably holds few surprises for anyone already fairly familiar with the politics but I found it a fascinating read


This is definitely the work of a documentary filmmaker in the sense that Feiling brings the personal aspects of the stories, including interviews with key players, into the broader narrative. The structure is oddly circular – it’s basically been written in the way you’d structure an investigative documentary. He begins by setting the scene in the United States, goes abroad searching for a solution in the supply chain and distribution system and then circles back to the role of the consumer in United States and Europe, ultimately concluding that this is where the solution must lie.

It’s a scathing indictment of current drug policy, particularly that pursued by the United States and, by extension, imposed on the rest of the world. It’s fascinating, easy to read and well worth giving a go, particularly if you want to learn about a topic rarely discussed in anything close to measured terms.

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