Tripped: Nazi Germany, the CIA, and the Dawn of the Psychedelic Age (Hardcover)

Tripped: Nazi Germany, the CIA, and the Dawn of the Psychedelic Age By Norman Ohler, Marshall Yarbrough (Translated by) Cover Image

Tripped: Nazi Germany, the CIA, and the Dawn of the Psychedelic Age (Hardcover)

By Norman Ohler, Marshall Yarbrough (Translated by)


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“A fleet-footed and propulsive account . . . Brilliantly sifting a massive history for its ideological through lines, this is a must-read." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The author of the New York Times bestseller Blitzed returns with a provocative new history of drugs and postwar America, examining the untold story of how Nazi experiments into psychedelics covertly influenced CIA research and secretly shaped the War on Drugs. 

Berlin 1945. Following the fall of the Third Reich, drug use—long kept under control by the Nazis’ strict anti-drug laws—is rampant throughout the city. Split into four sectors, Berlin's drug policies are being enforced under the individual jurisdictions of each allied power—the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and the US. In the American zone, Arthur J. Giuliani of the nascent Federal Bureau of Narcotics is tasked with learning about the Nazis’ anti-drug laws and bringing home anything that might prove “useful” to the United States.

Five years later, Harvard professor Dr. Henry Beecher began work with the US government to uncover the research behind the Nazis psychedelics program. Begun as an attempt to find a “truth serum” and experiment with mind control, the Nazi study initially involved mescaline, but quickly expanded to include LSD. Originally created for medical purposes by Swiss pharmaceutical Sandoz, the Nazis coopted the drug for their mind control military research—research that, following the war, the US was desperate to acquire. This research birthed MKUltra, the CIA's notorious brainwashing and psychological torture program during the 1950s and 1960s, and ultimately shaped US drug policy regarding psychedelics for over half a century.

Based on extensive archival research on both sides of the Atlantic, Tripped is a wild, unconventional postwar history, a spiritual sequel to Norman Ohler’s New York Times bestseller Blitzed. Revealing the close relationship and hidden connections between the Nazis and the early days of drugs in America, Ohler shares how this secret history held back therapeutic research of psychedelic drugs for decades and eventually became part of the foundation of America’s War on Drugs.

Norman Ohler is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Blitzed, the non-fiction book The Bohemians about resistance against Hitler in Berlin, as well as the novels Die Quotenmaschine (the world’s first hypertext novel), Mitte, Stadt des Goldes (translated into English as Ponte City), as well as the historical crime novel Die Gleichung des Lebens. He was cowriter of the script for Wim Wenders’s film Palermo Shooting. He lives in Berlin.

“Ohler’s book is at once a jaunty history of psychedelics, and a fascinating lament that the double-pronged legacy of Nazi drug policy — zero tolerance and weaponization — so severely limited research into their medicinal properties.” — New York Times Book Review

“A superb sequel to Blitzed, Tripped is a riveting and witty book about the obscure history of LSD. From the Swiss scientist and corporation that created the powerful hallucinogenic to the Nazis, G-men, and spooks that criminalized the chemical to the current boom in psychedelic research and start-ups, Tripped—meticulously researched and deeply personal—shows the awesome power of acid. Norman Ohler weaves a masterful tapestry of history in this revealing and fresh account.” — David de Jong, author of Nazi Billionaires

A fascinating book about the battle for LSD, which shines a light on the relationship between antagonistic powers, secret services, and the medical industry. An astonishing read, with remarkably vivid protagonists.” — Harald Jähner, author of Aftermath

“A fleet-footed and propulsive account . . . Brilliantly sifting a massive history for its ideological through lines, this is a must-read." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A winning addition to the literature of psychedelia.” — Kirkus Reviews

"Entertaining...Tripped is a story of front organizations, dodgy funds, bizarre experiments, assassinations, scientists, magicians, hookers, and spies."

The Times (London)

“A brilliant exposé of how Dr. Albert Hofmann’s epic discovery of LSD got lost in the ensuing War on Drugs and the corollary, its misuse for mind control, which hurt him personally and has hampered investigation into the potential therapeutic and spiritual benefits of the pharmaceutical.” — Professor Carl Ruck, coauthor of The Road to Eleusis

“Norman Ohler’s fascinating study involves Nazis, the CIA, and LSD in an engaging narrative that provides a mind-altering history of ‘brain warfare’ and exposes the Cold War psychedelic fantasies of many within the US scientific and intelligence communities. A must-read for those interested in understanding the apocalyptic mindset of the nascent superpower rivalry.” — Edward B. Westermann, author of Drunk on Genocide

“Illuminating . . . entertaining” — Booklist

“With cracking prose, Norman Ohler’s Tripped is high-octane history writing, rich in acidic humor. You’ll be in ecstasy.” — Joseph Pearson, author of My Grandfather’s Knife

“The strengths of Ohler’s account lie not only in the rich array of rare documents he mines and the archival images he reproduces to accompany the text, but also in his character studies… Ohler effectively captures Hitler’s pathetic dependence on his doctor and the bizarre intimacy of their bond…Blitzed makes for provocative reading.”  — New York Times Book Review on Blitzed

“A revelatory work that considers Hitler’s career in a new light. Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich is that rare sort of book whose remarkable insight focuses on a subject that’s been overlooked, even disregarded by historians.” — San Francisco Chronicle on Blitzed

“Ohler’s astonishing account of methamphetamine addiction in the Third Reich changes what we know about the Second World War...Blitzed looks set to reframe the way certain aspects of the Third Reich will be viewed in the future.” — Guardian on Blitzed

“Transforming meticulous research into compelling prose, Ohler delves into the little-known history of drug use in Nazi Germany.” — Entertainment Weekly on Blitzed

“[A] fascinating, engrossing, often dark history of drug use in the Third Reich.” — Washington Post on Blitzed