Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon

By Barbara Hodgson. This is a slim little volume that will teach you a lot about opium, its origins, how it was used, who used it, how it figured into 19th century Sino-British relations, and how it appeared in popular culture. By far the most interesting thing in the book is the pictures — it’s 140 pages of glossy reproductions of book covers, postcards, photos, sketches, and more. A must-read for those intrigued by drugs but who know very little, and fun of cute little tidbits. For example, “to kick the gong around” means to smoke opium. It seems that Minnie the Moocher was also a user. All in all, a fun read for when you need a break.

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