Acid Hype (Paperback)

American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience (History of Communication)

By Stephen Siff

University of Illinois Press, 9780252080760, 264pp.

Publication Date: May 4, 2015

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (5/15/2015)

List Price: 28.00*
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Now synonymous with Sixties counterculture, LSD actually entered the American consciousness via the mainstream. Time and Life, messengers of lumpen-American respectability, trumpeted its grand arrival in a postwar landscape scoured of alluring descriptions of drug use while outlets across the media landscape piggybacked on their coverage with stories by turns sensationalized and glowing.
Acid Hype offers the untold tale of LSD's wild journey from Brylcreem and Ivory soap to incense and peppermints. As Stephen Siff shows, the early attention lavished on the drug by the news media glorified its use in treatments for mental illness but also its status as a mystical--yet legitimate--gateway to exploring the unconscious mind. Siff's history takes readers to the center of how popular media hyped psychedelic drugs in a constantly shifting legal and social environment, producing an intricate relationship between drugs and media experience that came to define contemporary pop culture. It also traces how the breathless coverage of LSD gave way to a textbook moral panic, transforming yesterday's refined seeker of truths into an acid casualty splayed out beyond the fringe of polite society.

About the Author

Stephen Siff is assistant professor of journalism at Miami University, Ohio.

Praise For Acid Hype: American News Media and the Psychedelic Experience (History of Communication)

"Siff provides two parallel narratives about LSD. The first focuses on the history of LSD, its popularity beginning in the mid-1950s and its fall from grace a decade later; the second concerns the way in which media attention to LSD changed journalistic methods. Recommended."--Choice

"Painstakingly researched, it provides a highly interesting trip through an era where it seemed all Americans were aware of the drug and many were taking it. This study unquestionably will be cited extensively by historians."
--Patrick S. Washburn, Professor Emeritus, E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University

"The rich content of consumer magazines, especially those published before television became culturally dominant, remains largely unexamined by media historians. Acid Hype illustrates how rewarding study of mass-circulation magazines can be. Who could anticipate Stephen Siff would find that such bedrock Republicans as Henry and Clare Boothe Luce personally embraced hallucinogenic drugs and encouraged their use in the pages of Life and Time?"
--Joseph Bernt, Professor Emeritus of Journalism, Ohio University

"Acid Hype is a conscientiously researched, thoughtfully conceptualized, and clearly written account of the media's significant role in manufacturing the LSD craze in America in the late 1960s."--H-Net Reviews

"Stephen Siff. . . is never less than shrewd and readable in his assessment of how various news media differed in method and attitude when covering the psychedelic beat."--Inside Higher Ed

"A well-researched work of narrative history."--Journal of American History