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David Courtwright, Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World (2001)

Well-written and wide-ranging, Forces of Habit spans 500 years of global history to explain what Courtwright calls a "psychoactive revolution" that has made drugs pervasive in modern society. According to Courtwright, widespread drug use (both legal and illegal) must be understood not only as a cultural phenomenon, but also as an integral part of the economic history of modern capitalism.

David F. Musto, The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control ()

Musto's American Disease is the best single history of America's "War on Drugs."

Iain Gately, Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization (2001)

A reader need not share Gately's evident affection for tobacco to enjoy Tobacco. This global history of one of the world's most widely used drugs is packed full of fascinating trivia.

Mark Pendergrast, Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World (1999)

Pendergast does for coffee what Gately does for tobacco. Readers may be surprised to learn how important coffee has been in shaping the cultures, societies, and economies of the modern world.

Dominic Streatfield, Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography (2003)

Streatfield's "unauthorized biography" framework may be a bit cheesy, but Cocaine remains a useful global history of one of the most controversial drugs of recent decades.

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