Cocaine: An Unauthorised Biography


Cocaine: An Unauthorised BiographyOne innocuous-looking shrub has started wars, prompted invasions, embarrassed politicians, toppled governments, filled prisons, created billionaires, fuelled parties, bankrupted countries and taken thousands of lives. From coca to cocaine – this is the story of one of the world’s most popular, most problematic drugs.

Dominic Streatfeild’s journey into the heart of the cocaine trade takes him from the drug’s first medical use by the Incas to the isolation cells of America’s most secure prisons, from the crack houses of New York to the deepest jungles of South America. Join him and meet the economists, scientists, law enforcers and traffickers who study, police and run this multi-million pound industry.

From Dominic

Some people loved it, others (and there were quite a few) hated it.  One reviewer later told me that she’d had to restrain herself from throwing it at the wall. The reason? Worried that 2oo-plus thousand words of history and politics would be unreadable to all except academics, I decided it might be fun to try to make a history book amusing. Either you get the jokes or you don’t. What most reviewers agreed, however, was that a great deal of research had gone into it and that the history was serious. One reviewer (I think it was Time Out) commented that my trip to Colombia was about as foolhardy as ‘camping inside a nuclear reactor’.  To tell the truth, I rather regret the flippant side of the writing today – and I think the book should have been shortened by many thousands of words – but it’s a great story nevertheless. I still get phonecalls from TV people asking for contacts. I’m still in touch with most of the interviewees (George Jung – later played by Johnny Depp in the film ‘Blow’ – is my son’s godfather). And I still go back to Colombia and Peru to meet cocaine traffickers and chemists from time to time.

Published by: Virgin Books (2002)
ISBN: 9780753506271


A definitive history and overview of the problem. Sunday Times

Admirably researched and wonderfully astute…Intelligent, lively…an addictive concoction of esoteric detail and serious debate. The Guardian

A happy combination of page-turning pace and thought-provoking substance. An awesome survey. The Independent

Stick your hooter into this volume and you won’t be able to stoop until you’ve sniffed out all of its contents. Time Out

Fascinating, funny and brilliantly told. Streatfeild brings his…studies to life, screaming into the present. The Big Issue

The most comprehensive and intelligent history of cocaine available today…Streatfeild supplies you with the real thing – the truth – rather than the adulterated commodity of cool The Times

The best volume on charlie in years…addictive. Observer

Streatfeild’s smartly woven narrative winningly expands the narcotic’s resume beyond overdose horror stories – GQ

A lively and definitive history of coke Sunday Telegraph

Outstanding – Irish Times

A thrilling ride through exotic territory…Streatfeild’s animated writing style…makes for an exciting read – Time Out New York

A breezy history…often arresting, sometimes sobering – The Washington Post

That Streatfeild succeeds in delivering this large order is amazing enough, but that he does so with such style and good humour is miraculous – BookPage

A fasinating and richly detailed story…Streatfeild delivers and straight tale about a world where nothing is as it seems – Publishers Weekly

The author digs deep into the history of the drug…Streatfeild’s research is nothing to snort at – Kansas City Star

A sweeping and highly readable investigation – Boston Phoenix

A worthy primer to a global problem – Miami Herald

A sane and sober review of a vast body of accumulated knowledge dislodged from forgotten archives, obscure texts, government records, definitive histories, and human sources with impeccable credentials – The Baltimore Sun

Well presented…Brisk and well researched, Cocaine is informed by obscure archives and lost books as well as dynamic first-hand reporting – San Diego Union-Tribune

Thorough, engrossing, balanced and entertaining, it is important social history in palatable form – Booklist

Streatfeild is an excellent storyteller… This book is a great read – Seattle Times

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