Library Journal Review
With this latest work, Inglis (Georgian London) presents an intriguing world history of the appearance, spread, use, and abuse of the opium poppy and substances derived from it (morphine, heroine, opioids) from prehistory through today. There are more than 400 species of opium, but the opium poppy was never a wild plant; it has always cultivated. It first surfaced in the West but was lost to the East during the Dark Ages only to resurface again in Europe in the 18th century. Within a century, it was a scourge in both East and West. This account does not slight complicated historical connections: the East India Company's depredations in the Raj fold into production of the poppy farther east. The discussion of the rise of present-day poppy production in Afghanistan is a model of lucidity. ­Inglis explains how, in 2012, more than 250 million U.S. prescriptions for opioids were written, and that in Walker County, AL, alone, 335.1 were issued per 100 people. ­VERDICT This timely account will interest advocates and concerned citizens. Inglis's skillful command of style will please them all.-David Keymer, Cleveland © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In this wide-ranging and at times vivid narrative, historian Inglis (Georgian London) charts several millennia of opium's history, from the drug's discovery up through the current opioid crisis. Writing in a formal but enjoyable style, Inglis recounts that the opium poppy first appears in the historical record about 5,000 years ago. It spread throughout the ancient world (Aristotle was a fan) as a sleep aid and analgesic before establishing itself in the West as a pain reliever specifically for surgery during the Renaissance. The book rushes through the drug's early history, but gains coherence and argumentative strength when British history-the author's area of expertise-intersects with opium's. As Inglis explains, China's famous trade routes would become critical for opium's movement; Chinese authorities determined that it was harming the population, but the two Opium Wars didn't stop Britain from illegally importing opium poppy and violently defending the drug trade through the 1800s. Westerners were self-medicating with opium-based home remedies starting in the 1700s; use only increased with the inventions of morphine and the hypodermic needle, followed by patented medicines in the 1900s, fomenting contemporary addictions that begin with prescription painkillers. The U.S.'s prohibition on opium in the 1920s led to the cartel-run black market that still supplies America's nonprescription opiates. This examination is a must-read for anyone interested in the roots of the opioid crisis. Illus. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
There is no such thing as a wild opium poppy plant, explains historian and novelist Inglis (Crow Mountain, 2015) at the beginning of this global history of the poppy and its products opiates. Humans created it through domestication some 5,000 years ago and have been affected by its power ever since. Inglis traces the complex relationship between humanity and its creation, including elements of medical and scientific history, social contexts, military history, economics, and politics, as she follows opium's spread from its origin somewhere in the Near East or western Mediterranean, across Eurasia, and eventually to the Americas. The narrative offers breadth rather than depth, but Inglis builds interest by emphasizing the places where intersections among historical strands yielded unexpected results and new trajectories in our relationship with opium; heroin, for example, was originally marketed as relief for tuberculosis symptoms, while the medical crisis of WWI encouraged Mexican opium production. She concludes by considering today's opiate addition crisis and its historical context. A compelling story and a strong introduction to an important topic.--Sara Jorgensen Copyright 2018 Booklist