In Benjamin Breen's The Age of Intoxication: Origins of the Global Drug Trade (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), we are transported back to a time when there was no such thing as "recreational" and "medicinal" drugs. People ate Egyptian mummies. Tobacco apparently cured cancer. And the book has many more fascinating stories. Focusing in on the Portuguese colonies in Brazil and Angola and on the imperial capital of Lisbon, Breen deftly explores the process by which novel drugs were located, commodified, and consumed. And Breen demonstrates that drugs have been entwined with science and empire from the very beginning. Just like today.
Benjamin Breen is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Lucas Richert is an associate professor in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He studies intoxicating substances and the pharmaceutical industry. He also examines the history of mental health.