Sunday 2 October 2011

The Art of Suppression

I’ve just received a signed copy of The Art of Suppression: Pleasure, Panic and Prohibition Since 1800 by Chris Snowdon.
The prohibition of alcohol in the USA was a notorious fiasco. The War on Drugs has been a deadly failure. Bans on alternative nicotine products keep people smoking cigarettes. Attempts to suppress legal highs result in more drugs hitting the market. Prohibition doesn't work but the world is filled with prohibitionists. Why? Christopher Snowdon's new history of prohibitions is a panoramic study of how bans begin, who instigates them and why they fail. It is a story of moral panics, vested interests and popular hysteria, driven by people who believe that utopia is only ever one ban away. Includes:
  • The campaign for alcohol prohibition in the USA
  • The worldwide ban on opium and the dawn of the War on Drugs
  • The curious case of the European Union's ban on oral tobacco (snus)
  • The 1920s crusade to suppress drinking worldwide
  • The prohibition of Ecstasy and the rise of designer drugs
  • The enduring appeal of prohibitionist policies today
I’m only part way through it, but it’s an excellent read - lucidly written and leavened with a sense of humour. I would also strongly recommend Chris’ two previous books – Velvet Glove, Iron Fist and The Spirit Level Delusion.

Although not officially published yet, it can be ordered directly from the author.

Chris’ blog is also well worth reading – don’t dismiss it as “just another blog about the smoking ban” as it’s at least as much about the anti-alcohol movement and other aspects of prohibitionism.


  1. Sounds like an interesting read! Though I don't see prohibition becoming an issue in the UK any time soon!

  2. Prohibition as such may not be a live issue, but the mindset which seeks to restrict the consumption and availability of alcoholic drinks is very much alive and kicking.

    And we do have genuine prohibition of a wide range of "illegal drugs", with predictably negative effects.


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