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Newspaper Reviews:

New York Times
By Dwight Garner
January 8, 2010

“I enjoyed just about every page of The Harvard Psychedelic Club. This groovy story unfurls — chronicling the lives of men who were brilliant but damaged, soulful but vengeful, zonked-out but optimistic and wry — like a ready-made treatment for a sprawling, elegiac and crisply comic movie, let’s say Robert Altman by way of Wes Anderson.”
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SF Weekly
By Keith Bowers
January 5, 2011

“Don Lattin deals in deconstruction. Part detective, part historian, he uses interviews, documents, the public record, and his own experience to connect disparate events and trends to wrestle a sense of order — not to mention a gripping tale — from the chaos. In his latest book, Lattin works his deconstructive magic, tracing much of the social upheaval of the 1960s back to four men seeking breakthroughs in spirituality, hallucinogenics and holistic medicine.”
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New York Times
Sunday Book Review
By Mary Jo Murphy
March 21, 2010

“Lattin makes sense of a complicated movement so often reduced to its parody-ready costumes, haircuts and groovy lingo. And he does it with authority and an evenhanded understanding of the good, the bad and the crazy of it all.”
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The Oklahoman Newspaper
By Steve Rabey
Jan. 26, 2010

Bits and pieces of their stories have been told before, but Lattin artfully weaves them together, creating a stronger, more compelling narrative that enlightens as much as it informs.
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4 visionaries

Miami Herald
By Christine Thomas
Feb. 10, 2010

The Harvard Psychedelic Project's intimate, revealing vista makes the book soar, and, as Lattin hopes, just might inspire today's idealists to carve a new path and profoundly change the world as these four dynamic visionaries once did.
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Northside San Francisco
By Bruce Bellingham
Feb. 10, 2010

Lattin has always embraced the good qualities of being a religion reporter. He never loses his sense of humor. That’s a must for a writer who has to zigzag along the path of piety. And he never shows contempt for his subjects. There’s a kindness, an element of respect, in Lattin’s reportage.
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San Francisco Chronicle
By Ari L. Goldman
Jan. 3, 2010

Few names conjure the chaos and madness of the 1960s like that of Dr. Timothy Leary. It was Leary, after all, who told America's young: "The only way out is in. Turn on, tune in and drop out. Out of high school, junior executive, senior executive. And follow me!"

It was enough to lead Richard Nixon to label Leary "the most dangerous man in America." But, as Don Lattin reminds us in this informative and highly entertaining book, Leary was once considered a rising star in mainstream psychology and worked with the imprimatur of no place other than Harvard University. It was at Harvard where Leary met another researcher named Richard Alpert, who was later to become a guru named Ram Dass.
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San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times
By Peter Magnani
Jan. 3, 2010

Reams have been written about LSD guru Timothy Leary and his sidekick Richard Alpert (later Ram Dass) and the role they played in shaping the phenomenon that was the Sixties. But by expanding the circle to include two additional members of what he calls "The Harvard Psychedelic Club," Bay Area journalist and author Don Lattin deepens the context of what actually took place during those wild times and argues successfully for its lasting significance.
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Advance Praise for
The Harvard Psychedelic Club

With care and considerable humor, Don Lattin shows us how the interwoven relationships of four charismatic visionaries contributed to the expansion of mind that changed American culture forever. The way we eat, pray, and love have all been conditioned by their lives and teachings.
– Mirabai Bush, co-author (with Ram Dass) of Compassion in Action

It’s hard for folks who didn’t live through the 1960s to imagine what it was like to live in a drug and sex-soaked culture, one where traditional values were drowned in a rush of hedonism and hippiedom...In this beautifully constructed study, Lattin brings together four of the most memorable figures from that period. Each comes across as a flawed genius and irrepressible fanatic... This is a fast-moving, dispassionate recounting of a seminal period in our history, and all in all, a wonderful book.
Publishers Weekly

Will we ever really understand that state of mind and decade we call “the sixties”? It left pernanent marks on our society including changes in psychology, politics, the food we eat, how we think about mental and physical health, and much more. Lattin has crafted a riveting account of four of the personalities who deeply influenced those cultural shifts...for good or for ill. A skillfully woven group biography it is thoroughly researched, wonderfully readable and sparkles with keen insights. Tim Leary, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), Andrew Weil and Huston Smith all come alive, both as fascinating personalities and in their inrtricate relationships with each other. This is not just a book about magic mushrooms or LSD. It is the story of a turning point we are still living with.
– Harvey Cox, professor at Harvard Divinity School and author of The Future of Faith.

The Harvard Psychedelic Club is not only a great read, it's also an unforgettable head trip. Don Lattin weaves a masterful tale of 1960s-style spirituality, professional jealousy, and out-of-body experiences. Lattin has done his homework and it shows. Read this book and expand your mind. No hallucinogenics required.
– Eric Weiner, New York Times bestselling author of The Geography of Bliss

I thoroughly enjoyed Don Lattin's revealing account of four iconic personalities who helped define an era, sowed seeds of
consciousness, and left indelible marks in the lives of spiritual explorers to this day. The Conclusion is alone worth the price of the book.
– Dan Millman, bestselling author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior

I suspect I’m not the only person who thought the psychedelics-at-Harvard story had been pretty well settled, but Don Lattin’s work has widened my perspective considerably. By focusing on Huston Smith and Andrew Weil as well as Leary and Alpert, he’s created a stimulating and thoroughly engrossing read.
– Dennis McNally, author of
A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead

This book is a real trip, as we used to say, and it will probably give you flashbacks whether you were there or not. Don Lattin does a grand job of telling us the wildly improbable story of psychedelic drugs in America, and the jump start of the “new age” spiritual movement. A very far-out read!
Wes `Scoop' Nisker, author, Buddhist meditation teacher, and performer.

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Publicist: Julie Burton
julie.burton@harpercollins.com
415-477-4407

Literary Agent: Amy Rennert
amy@amyrennert.com
415-789-8955

This book is the story of how three brilliant scholars and one ambitious freshman crossed paths in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the winter of 1960-61, and how their experiences in a psychedelic drug research project transformed their lives and much of American culture in the 1960s and 1970s.

They came together in a time of upheaval and experimentation, and they set the stage for the social, spiritual, sexual, and psychological revolution of the 1960s. Huston Smith would be the teacher, practicing every world religion and educating three generations of Americans to adopt a more tolerant, inclusive attitude toward other culture’s religions. Richard Alpert would be the seeker, traveling to India, returning to America as “Ram Dass” and reborn as a spiritual leader with his “Be Here Now” mantra, inspiring a restless army of spiritual pilgrims. Andrew Weil would be the healer, becoming the undisputed leader of alternative medicine, devoting his life to the holistic reformation of the American health care system. And Timothy Leary would play the rebellious trickster, the premier proponent of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of LSD, advising a generation to “turn on, tune in, and drop out.”

 


Shelf Awareness Review:

Aldous Huxley was a major inspiration for the four men Don Lattin profiles in this lively retelling of the start of America's romance with hallucinogenic drugs. In its day, Huxley's The Doors of Perception (1954) served as the premier guide for experimenting with and studying the effects of mind-altering chemicals on human consciousness. Huxley was also a connector. No sooner had M.I.T. religion scholar Huston Smith (The World's Religions) mentioned to Huxley in 1960 that he had never had a mystical experience than Huxley gave him Timothy Leary's telephone number at Harvard as a source of a drug that would do the trick.
To read full article. . . click here
– John McFarland, Shelf Awareness

Booklist Magazine Review:

This would be a terrific social history of a fascinating historical period even if it didn’t star some of the most important influences on today’s culture. But Andrew Weil remains a guru of alternative medicine and nutrition, and Huston Smith’s books on world religion are required reading at almost every college, while Timothy Leary and Ram Dass are icons of consciousness exploration through drugs and Eastern religions, respectively. So this energetic study of the time all four were together at Harvard tells much about today’s culture. Lattin’s quasifictional techniques (most notably, reconstructed dialog) bring to life the antics of trickster Leary, who once said that he’d turned seven million people on and only 100,000 ever thanked him, and seeker Ram Dass (originally Richard Alpert), who helped bring awareness of meditation and other Indian religious techniques to the West. Smith, son of Christian missionaries in China and early on a fellow traveler with Leary and Alpert, determined that drugs constituted but a shortcut to the religious ecstasy he sought, while Weil’s opposition was instrumental in ending Leary’s
and Alpert’s tenures at Harvard (although he was himself experimenting with the same drugs). Some laugh-aloud passages make this an entertaining read, but the underlying exploration of the sociocultural reasons for the extravaganza that was the 1960s merits attention, especially from those interested in the period.
Patricia Monaghan, Booklist Magazine

 
       
             
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