A book to add to your list

November 16, 2012
By

This sounds outstanding. Ricardo Cortes gave us “It’s Just a Plant: a children’s story about marijuana” and also illustrated the extraordinarily popular “Go the Fuck to Sleep.” His latest project is one that has taken years of research, development and artistry.

A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola is an illustrated history of coffee, coca leaf, kola nut, Coca-Cola, caffe-ine, coca-ine, secret formulas, special flavors, special favors, and the future of prohibition. It’s a tale of cocaine factories in Peru and New Jersey; secret experiments at the University of Hawaii; and a peek at the files of U.S. Bureau of Narcotics commissioner Harry J. Anslinger (infamous for his “Reefer Madness” campaign against marijuana, lesser known as a collaborator of The Coca-Cola Company).

“This book is an incredible work of artistic journalism. Armed with color pencils and an eye for detail, Cortés has produced a beautiful and subversive history of how that bottle of Coke ended up in your fridge. Cortés weaves his people’s history with meticulously and gorgeously crafted drawings—many of them recreations of the primary documents he uses to tell his story. The end product is a damning, epic tale of hypocrisy: while the US government leads the charge to criminalize the 10 million people who chew coca, it has simultaneously conspired with a multinational beverage giant to ensure an endless supply of coca to fuel its profits.”

—Jeremy Scahill

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Pete Guither is the editor of drugwarrant.com

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