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By Steven Martin


A popular authority at the mystery international of opium recounts his descent into ruinous obsession with one of many world’s oldest and such a lot seductive medicinal drugs, during this harrowing memoir of dependancy and recovery.
A natural-born collector with a nostril for unique event, San Diego–born Steven Martin his bliss to Southeast Asia, the place he came across paintings as a contract journalist. whereas studying an editorial in regards to the vanishing tradition of opium smoking, he used to be encouraged to start gathering infrequent nineteenth-century opium-smoking gear. through the years, he gathered a helpful collection of beautiful pipes, old lamps, and different opium-related accessories—and started placing all of it to take advantage of by means of smoking a very powerful kind of the drug known as chandu. yet what began as leisure use grew right into a thirty-pipe-a-day behavior that ate up Martin’s each waking hour, left him incapable of labor, and exacted a frightful actual and fiscal toll. In passages that would ship a relax up the backbone of an individual who has ever lived within the shadow of substance abuse, Martin chronicles his efforts to manage after which overcome his addiction—from quitting chilly turkey to taking “the medication” at a Buddhist monastery within the Thai countryside.
straight away a robust own tale and a desirable old survey, Opium Fiend brims with anecdotes and lore surrounding the drug that a few have referred to as the methamphetamine of the nineteenth-century. It remembers the heyday of opium smoking within the usa and Europe and takes us contained in the befogged opium dens of China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. The drug’s beguiling results are defined in shiny detail—as are the excruciating pains of withdrawal—and there are intoxicating stories of pipes shared with an eclectic number of opium aficionados, from Dutch dilettantes to hard-core addicts to world-weary overseas correspondents.
A compelling story of 1 man’s transformation from revered student to hapless drug slave, Opium Fiend places us below opium’s spell along its protagonist, permitting modern readers to event anew the insidious attract of a diabolical vice that the area has all yet forgotten.

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An undersized adolescence, answering to the identify of “Joe” Cohen, figured because the supervisor. … where used to be opened simply approximately weeks in the past, and no fee used to be spared to make it inviting to the people who smoke. The partitions and ceilings have been coated with purple and gold textile stamped with fleur-de-lis of gilt, and the corners of the rooms have been hung with bright-colored flimsy silks … for the lodging of people who smoke who cared to disrobe and put on the pajamas that have been disbursed. … “Joe” Cohen was once renowned and renowned one of the opium people who smoke at the west part, and final week whilst a spot on Broadway, among Sixty-sixth and Sixty-seventh Streets, run through a Chinaman referred to as “Boston,” used to be closed, the recognized people who smoke got playing cards of invitation to the Sixty-fourth road institution. The playing cards bore the identify “Harry Hill,” and their ownership gave the entrée to the bearer even if he was once recognized or to not Cohen. where, which may accommodate approximately fifty people who smoke at one time, was once crowded evening and day, and the receipts averaged approximately $200 [about $5,000 this day] each twenty-four hours. If an green smoker got here good steered he was once admitted, and after paying 50 cents for a card of opium, he obtained a “layout,” and certainly one of part a dozen “cooks” apprehensive to organize the stuff in go back for the privilege of smoking a few of it's going to roll capsule after capsule for him. The format consisted of a tin tray, a lamp, pipe, and a sponge to wash the bowl of the pipe, and a “yen-hok,” or lengthy piece of metal like a knitting needle, on which to cook dinner the opium. The opium was once rigorously weighed out by way of the executive in an ante-room after which brought at the again of a standard taking part in card. One card sufficed for roughly twenty tablets, and maybe part a dozen playing cards will be utilized by a celebration of 3 in the course of a smoking séance of approximately 3 hours, and then the people who smoke could retire and fall asleep. where did additionally a great enterprise in cigars, cigarettes, and liquors. The patronage of where had grown so huge that front flat at the comparable flooring have been engaged, and the rooms there have been being partitioned off for personal smoking rooms, the place decide upon events of people who smoke and sightseers should be accommodated. The addition was once to were prepared this week, and each Chinatown advisor were apprised of the proposed beginning. As tame as this information tale could appear to us at the present time, opium used to be the methamphetamine of its day. the general public used to be surprised through stories of simply how a long way clients might visit get a repair. If opium smoking were contained to America’s Chinatowns and underworld groups, it could now not have triggered a lot alarm. in its place, because the vice unfold to most of the people, husbands complained to police approximately better halves who left their houses and kids unattended to spend lengthy hours reclining in smoky dens between strangers. while those locations have been raided, specialists have been appalled to discover ladies from “good households” in states of intoxication and partial undress, having discarded their hats, footwear, and corsets to be cozy whereas smoking.

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