Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom

Shroom A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom Is Santa Claus really a magic mushroom in disguise Was Alice s Adventures in Wonderland a thinly veiled psychedelic mushroom odyssey Did mushroom tea kick start ancient Greek philosophy Much stranger

  • Title: Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom
  • Author: Andy Letcher
  • ISBN: 9780060828288
  • Page: 108
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Is Santa Claus really a magic mushroom in disguise Was Alice s Adventures in Wonderland a thinly veiled psychedelic mushroom odyssey Did mushroom tea kick start ancient Greek philosophy Much stranger than the fictions it has inspired, the world of the magic mushroom is a place where shamans and hippies rub shoulders with psychiatrists, poets and international bankers ThIs Santa Claus really a magic mushroom in disguise Was Alice s Adventures in Wonderland a thinly veiled psychedelic mushroom odyssey Did mushroom tea kick start ancient Greek philosophy Much stranger than the fictions it has inspired, the world of the magic mushroom is a place where shamans and hippies rub shoulders with psychiatrists, poets and international bankers The magic mushroom was rediscovered only fifty years ago but has accumulated all sorts of folktales and urban legends along the way In this timely and definitive study, Andy Letcher strips away the myths to get at the true story of how hallucinogenic mushrooms, once shunned in the West as the most pernicious of poisons, came to be the illicit drug of choice.Chronicling the history of the magic mushroom, from its use by the Aztecs of Central America and the tribes of Siberia through to the present day, Letcher takes a critical and humorous look at the drug s recent manifestations Since the 1970s scientists and others in major Western nations, the United States and the United Kingdom in particular, have identified hundreds of hallucinogenic species, isolated their active ingredients, learned how to cultivate them on an industrial scale, and spread them around the world More than any other civilization that has come before us, and despite all the myths we have built, we, by all rights, are the true magic mushroom enthusiasts.Informative, lively and impeccably researched, Shroom presents a unique and engaging study of this most extraordinary of psychedelic drugs.

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    About "Andy Letcher"

    1. Andy Letcher

      Andy Letcher Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom book, this is one of the most wanted Andy Letcher author readers around the world.

    296 thoughts on “Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom”

    1. I found it an effective counterbalance to all the hyperbole, wild flights of fancy and cherry picking the facts which Terence McKenna and Gordon Wasson resorted to in their theories of psychedelic mushroom use.One of the main themes that Mr. Letcher so eloquently elucidated was that, in most of recorded history, mushroom intoxication was considered a toxic side-effect of mushroom poisoning and not a unique phenomena worthy of study.The book is divided into three parts. The first part outlines th [...]

    2. Really unsatisfying. I'm not sure who the intended audience was for this book - maybe rabid Terrence McKenna fans, who can't be swayed by any kind of logic, and certainly won't be by Letcher's arguments here. The first half is primarily devoted to refuting Gordon Wasson and debunking what the author feels are popularly held beliefs about magic mushrooms - that Santa is a metaphor for shrooms, berserkers ate mushrooms before battle, and so forth. The main problem, of course, is that the majority [...]

    3. The thrust of this book, beyond what's indicated by its title, is to explode the myths surrounding psychedelic mushrooms, psilocybin and amanita mushrooms in particular. In so doing, the author focuses in particular on the popular hypotheses that magic mushrooms are behind many, if not all, world religions and that Siberian shamanism, based on mushroom use, paradigmatically represents original religion. Along the way he exposits and critiques such figures as Robert Wasson, Robert Graves, John Al [...]

    4. I love this book for debunking the grotesque and intellectually-bankrupt beliefs of the crypto-entheo-hermeneuticists. Of course many of them will not be swayed by Letcher's careful argument because they're not terribly rational to begin with. Either way this book provides an engaging cultural history of psychoactive mushrooms and their reception by the credulous masses.

    5. Not nearly as interesting as I was hoping. It's an exhaustive history, but I can't shake the feeling that Letcher had an agenda set before he started his research and worked towards that end of debunking myths he felt needed debunking. He raises an important point about our quickness to look at ancient rites as justification of current indulgences, but I don't think he makes it. Also, for a book on hallucinogens and their cultural impact, you'd expect he'd have some fun writing. Not the case: it [...]

    6. I initially bought this thinking it would support various theories of ancient psychedelia floating around. Instead, Letcher spends most of the book taking the opposite stance. No bother, I'm still glad I read it. He does recount the earliest newspaper and medical journal articles involving accidental intoxication--then goes on to debunk almost all of the other authors and amateur mycologists with ideas about the rise of religious cults and civilisations built around hallucinogen use.Letcher save [...]

    7. Either Letcher is way less mystically inclined than myself, or he hides it well for the sake of telling his story accurately & in a way that may reach less mystical ears (those that can listen, let em in!)His conviction—apparently well-researched & well-explained—is that the mushroom does not have a major role in ancient human history beyond a few isolated examples (Mexico & Siberia mostly) , but that it has been a major force in "western" culture from the last half of the twenti [...]

    8. This jarringly pseudo-sober account of what evidence there may be of intentional mushroom use throughout western (and other) civilizations turned me off at first by the author's so very British tone. The first great labor of the work is tearing down the mythologising that has overtaken plenty of us as to the role mushrooms have played in the history of religion, medicine, consciousness, language, space travel, etc which the author does rapidly and cursorily. It was both fascinating and difficult [...]

    9. I saw a copy of Shrooms in Barnes and Nobles and after reading the prologue, an account of an unsuspecting individual’s experience with magic mushrooms, I decided to buy it. The book was much better then I could have hoped and in retrospect, it really ought to have been; the hard cover set me back about $27. Shrooms is Andy Letcher's first book and hopefully not his last for it is impossible to ignore the ease with which Letcher writes. The beginning of Shrooms is full of hard scientific infor [...]

    10. Probably only for those seriously interested in the history of psychedelic drug use, this is a surprisingly academic and sober book, definitely not an Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. Lechter spends a lot of time debunking claims of mushroom use in ancient times by the likes of Gordon Wasson, and the spaced-out fantasies of Terence McKenna, that probably don't need debunking anyway. He makes a strong case that mushroom use is actually a modern phenomenon (although I couldn't help thinking that the a [...]

    11. It is hard to say how I feel about this book. On one hand Andy Letcher takes too much self pride in debunking theories. A whole chapter was wasted on talking about Gordon Wasson's theories, when I'm sure his targeted audience already found them out-dated. On the other hand, all of his mycological research is put together very well and is very interesting. I also like how he focused on every time period's ideas of magic mushrooms allowing the reader to see the transition to how we view magic mush [...]

    12. I'm not sure if I'd recommend this to anyone else, unless you have an undying thirst for information about psychedelic mushrooms. I only read this because Dan bought it forever ago and never read it, so I figured that at least one of us should.That said, it's remarkably interesting, packed full of random knowledge that might serve me well in Trivial Pursuit one day. The only things that I really didn't like was the UK-centric-ness of the stories and the author's general self-satisfied tone when [...]

    13. Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom by Andy Letcher (ECCO 2007) (394.14). What a book! What a story! Could it possibly be that the identity of the magic mushroom had been lost until not much more than fifty years ago? Now THAT'S trippy! Here's something I had never heard before concerning the relative strengths of mescaline, psilocybin, and LSD-25: according to the author, psilocybin is ten times stronger than mescaline, and LSD is one hundred times stronger than psilocybin (p.15). [...]

    14. Interesting little history on how psychedelic mushrooms have been viewed by Western culture. The author obviously was involved with the mushroom culture but still seems to keep a pretty realistic and critical viewpoint for most of the book. If you have interest in anthropology, the counter-culture, or a little better understanding of how the drugs work. It's aimed for the mass market, but still has lots of nice reference and history.[return][return]The author is also British, so there's details [...]

    15. Like Antipodes of the Mind for ayahuasca, this is a refreshingly analytical look at the rise of magic mushroom subculture over the last 100 years. If you'd prefer to think that Jesus and the ancient Greeks took shrooms, than this book will destroy your dreams (or just piss you off). But if you want a thoroughly researched piece of work that addresses why people use magic mushrooms currently, and the interesting and unexpected ways they've influenced psychedelic culture, then you're in for a very [...]

    16. A measured, academic, and critical review of the history of psychedelic mushroom use, both alleged ancient and recent. The last couple chapters profiling two of the most famous, yet insufferable, "psychonauts" (Timothy Leary & Terrance McKenna) did wonders to turn me off ever having any personal experiences with the culture of shroom use. But it was an interesting critique of shroom myth vs. shroom fact, and a nicely removed armchair understanding of what the whole thing's about. That's enou [...]

    17. A thorough look at all the myths, particularly the religious/pagan/romantic ones surrounding "magic" mushrooms; very well-researched. Skillfully shows the deceit and New Age b.s. surrounding Robert Graves, Gerald Gardner, and the neo-Pagan resurgence in general (though that's not the overall point, it was interesting and appreciated). Really does cover all the known history of human interaction with hallucinogenic mushrooms, and does it entertainingly.

    18. This book was very informative--I learned something new on nearly every page. However, the author tended to wax a little too poetic and long-winded at certain times, as if he wanted to end a section but wasn't sure how to do it concisely. He provided plenty of context for his research. but was also clearly biased in favor of his subject.

    19. A comprehensive history, a little on the dry side without much discussion of the importance of primary mystical experiences, but a worthy addition to the fascinating story of psilocybes and their chemical components. Also discusses Amanita muscaria and is sharply critical of Wasson's Soma theory and other "alternative" historical analyses (Allegro, Ruck, Heinrich, etc.).

    20. Letcher does a great job examining the cultural history of the magic mushroom, and deconstructs some common myths along the way. He makes a serious attempt at being balanced, though I think some of his criticisms do not hold, though in general I agree with him more than disagree.

    21. This book is written by a hippy with two PhDs, so it's just what it should be: an enthusiastic history of shrooms which is scientifically and historically better researched than most non-fiction books I've read lately. Bravo to Letcher.

    22. Non-nonsense overview of the history of magic mushroom use in the West discussing amongst others Wasson and McKenna.

    23. Shaun said: "no way!" when I told him the main finding of this book. Which is that there is no evidence of anybody intentionally eating magic mushrooms in the UK before 1970.

    24. This book was certainly interesting. As a history, it is difficult to give it a high rating because there was a lot of bias and assumed knowledge that made full engagement with the text difficult.

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