Does anyone have a good review of the book Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser?
Here at Enotes, there is a comprehensive summary as well as several sources that are cited. Beneath this response, then, there are links to the Enotes source and two reviews that are in accordance with one another and seem to be rather astute assessments of Schlosser's work.
Interestingly, Schlosser's title puns upon that of a propaganda film made in 1936 with the intention of frightening teens so that they would not be tempted to use the drug. In the course of the exploitative melodrama, high school students are lured into trying marijuana; after they have smoked it, they become extremely erratic in behavior and appear to have lost complete control of their libidos as they are involved in attempted rape, hit and run accidents, manslaughter, and suicide until those left living descend into utter insanity. However, although perhaps implying a loss of "control," in America's system, Schlosser's book is an journalistic report that clearly presents facts on America's underground/black market economy, This modern-day muckraking publication is divided into three sections:
- Chapter 1: "Reefer Madness" - a discussion of marijuana production
- Chapter 2: "In the Strawberry Fields" - a discussion of migrant worker labor problems
- Chapter 3: "An Empire of the Obscene" - a discussion of underground pornography
With the intention of social reform as a muckraker, the author uses dramatic effect from very vivid description, along with factual information and governmental documentation. For one thing, Schlosser contends that nearly 10% of the gross domestic product derives from unreported labor and illegal production. In 1997, for instance, Schlosser reports,
Americans had failed to pay about $200 billion of federal taxes that were owed, an amount larger than the government’s annual spending on Medicare.
A review by the A.V. Club includes this assessment:
The book eventually comes down to a discussion of whether the ideals of free-market capitalism have any meaning in a society that restricts trade based on moral objections.