“In the 1970s it circulated among Left Bank intellectuals, including Sartre and Bernard-Henri Lévy, as an aid to productive writing. In 1981 it was listed as a controlled substance in the US and in 1986, after it was scheduled under the WHO Convention on Psychotropic Substances, it was removed from prescription sale.” The London Review of Books reviews two histories about the role of drugs in the fighting of wars, Blitzed: Drugs In the Third Reich by Norman Ohler and Shooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare by Łukasz Kamieński Hurst. Both pay particular attention to Captagon (the name a portmanteau of “captain” and “pentagon”), a pharmaceutical that has become common throughout Eastern Europe, the Gulf States, India, and China, and by 2014 “had become a significant source of funding for all sides in Syria’s civil war.”
Recommended Reading: Blake Morrison on the literature of England’s flood-prone east coast.
“It soon emerged that there is a uniquely British brand of feeling, a blend of distress and composure marked by a touching compulsion to keep up appearances in the face of interpersonal dissolution. For all its prevalence and subtlety, this mode of engagement is difficult for the uninitiated to decipher or even to discern, and I would have remained oblivious of it if not for the works of Dame Iris Murdoch, a connoisseur of British emotional life in all its baffling permutations.” On Iris Murdoch and the British brand of distress and composure.
Out this week: Gratitude by Oliver Sacks; And Yet by Christopher Hitchens; The Lost Garden by Ang Li; and a new edition of Drum Taps: The Complete Civil War Poems by Walt Whitman. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
It’s not online but “The Boy Who Had Never Seen The Sea” by newly named Nobel laureate Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio appears in this week’s New Yorker. See our recent guest post about publishing Le Clézio.In last week’s New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell was back, this time talking about “genius.” His guinea pigs were Ben Fountain and Jonathan Safran Foer.The headline says it all: “Karl Marx’s book sells as Germany economy sinks.””The _______of________“The fall issue of The Quarterly Conversation has arrived.