High Society

Mind-altering drugs in history and culture

Mike Jay

Book cover of High Society by Mike Jay

Designed to accompany the exhibition of the same name, 'High Society: Mind-altering drugs in history and culture' explores the spectrum of mind-altering substances across the globe and throughout history. Beautifully illustrated with rarely seen material, this striking, lyrical and rigorously researched book puts its controversial subject into the widest possible context.

Acclaimed cultural historian Mike Jay, one of the curators of the 'High Society' exhibition, paints vivid portraits of the roles that drugs play as medicines, religious sacraments, status symbols and coveted trade goods. He traces the understanding of intoxicants from the botanicals of the classical world through the mind-bending self-experiments of early scientists to the present 'war on drugs', and reveals how the international trade in substances such as tobacco, tea and opium shaped the modern world.

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About the author

Photograph of Mike Jay

Mike Jay

Mike Jay is an author and curator who has written widely on the history of science, medicine, drugs and madness. His books include 'The Influencing Machine' (2012), 'The Atmosphere of Heaven' (2007) and 'High Society: Mind-altering Drugs in History and Culture' (2010). He is a research affiliate of the Centre for Health Humanities at University College London, and a trustee of the Bethlem Art and History Collection.