Modern history

Opium’s Orphans: The 200-Year History of the War on Drugs

Opium’s Orphans: The 200-Year History of the War on Drugs

Upending all we know about the war on drugs, a history of the anti-narcotics movement’s origins, evolution, and questionable effectiveness.

Opium’s Orphans is the first full history of drug prohibition and the “war on drugs.” A no-holds-barred but balanced account, it shows that drug suppression was born of historical accident, not rational design. The war on drugs did not originate in Europe or the United States, and even less with President Nixon, but in China. Two Opium Wars followed by Western attempts to atone for them gave birth to an anti-narcotics order that has come to span the globe. But has the war on drugs succeeded? As opioid deaths and cartel violence run rampant, contestation becomes more vocal, and marijuana is slated for legalization, Opium's Orphans proposes that it is time to go back to the drawing board.


Part I: The Rise of Control

Chapter 1. Forbidden Cities

Chapter 2. Opium Wars

Chapter 3. Paradise Lost?

Chapter 4. Shanghai and The Hague

Part II: Prohibition Triumphant

Chapter 5. Gangster

Chapter 6. Drug Prohibition at Its Zenith

Chapter 7. Overreach

Part III: The System Challenged

Chapter 8. Drug Lords

Chapter 9. The Consensus Crumbles

Chapter 10. Opiate Overdose

Closing Observations

Appendix I: Opium Smoker Numbers in Nineteenth-Century China

Appendix II: League-Era Opium Regime Statistics

Appendix III: Post-War Drug Seizures


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