The Harvard Psychedelic Club: How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith & Andrew Weil Brought a New Age to America

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The lives and times of four men--Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass), Andrew Weil and Huston Smith--whose paths crossed in the Sixties with the infamous Harvard Psilocybin Project, and who consequently changed the course of American culture and launched the Mind/Body/Spirit movement.

Cover: The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin

The sizeable number of Americans who attend yoga clases, eat health-food, use alternative medicines, practice Buddhism, etc., is unimaginable without the work of Andrew Weil, Ram Dass, Tim Leary and Houston Smith at the apex of American openmindedness.

In The Harvard Psychedelic Club (HarperOne; January 2010; Hardcover; $24.99; ISBN 9780061655937), author Don Lattin, one of the nation's leading journalists covering religion in America, takes readers into the heart of the 1960s and back into this era of "peace, love, and joy." With cameos by some of the best known and most beloved cultural figures of the era--including John Lennon, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, Ken Kesey, Joan Baez, Keith Richards, and Aldous Huxley--this book presents a comprehensive and compelling picture of a nation undergoing great and lasting change, and the four men who took us there.

The 1950s--a decade defined by conformity, consumerism, and conservatism--were coming to a close, and a new era of social, spiritual, sexual, and psychological revolution was beginning. By the end of the century, Americans would have a new outlook on religion and new ways of practicing medicine, and the Mind/Body/Spirit movement would make things like yoga, organic produce, and alternative medicine commonplace.

This is the story of how it all began. Three brilliant scholars and one ambitious undergrad--widely known today as leaders in the fields of spirituality (Ram Dass), world religions (Huston Smith), hallucinogenics (Timothy Leary), and holistic medicine (Andrew Weil)--came together in the winter of 1960-61 around the Harvard Psilocybin Project, an infamous series of experiments with psychedelic drugs. Seeking spiritual enlightenment, their research brought them together before bitterness and betrayal tore them apart, and as they forged their own paths and changed their own lives, they would also transform the culture of America.

About the Author:
Don Lattin is the author of Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge. His work has appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, where he covered the religion beat for nearly two decades. Lattin has also appeared on Dateline, Good Morning America, Nightline, Anderson Cooper 360, and PBS's Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.

Additional Praise for The Harvard Psychedelic Club:

"This skillfully woven group biography is thoroughly researched, wonderfully readable, and sparkles with keen insights. Tim Leary, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass), Andrew Weil, and Huston Smith all come alive, both as fascinating personalities and in their intricate relationships with each other. This is not just a book about magic mushrooms or LSD. It is the story of a turning point we are still living with." -- Harvey Cox, Hollis Research Professor of Divinity at Harvard University, and author of The Future of Faith

"With care and considerable humor, Lattin shows us how the interwoven relationships of four charismatic visionaries contributed to the expansion of mind that changed American culture forever. The way we eat, pray, and love have all been conditioned by their lives and teachings."
-- Mirabai Bush, co-founder and Senior Fellow of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and co-author (with Ram Dass) of Compassion in Action

"I suspect I'm not the only person who thought the psychedelics-at-Harvard story had been pretty well settled, but Lattin's work has widened my perspective considerably. By focusing on Huston Smith and Andrew Weil as well as Leary and Alpert, Lattin's created a stimulating and thoroughly engrossing read." -- Dennis McNally, author of A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead and Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America

"The Harvard Psychedelic Club is not only a great read, it's also an unforgettable head trip. Lattin weaves a masterful tale of 1960s-style spirituality, professional jealousy, and out-of-body experiences. Lattin has done his homework and it shows. Read this book and expand your mind. No hallucinogenics required." -- Eric Weiner, author of The Geography of Bliss

"A revealing account of four iconic personalities who helped define an era, sowed seeds of consciousness, and left indelible marks in the lives of spiritual explorers to this day. The conclusion is alone worth the price of the book."
-- Dan Millman, author of The Peaceful Warrior

The Harvard Psychedelic Club
How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America
By Don Lattin
HarperOne, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
January 2010 | $24.99 | Hardcover | ISBN: 9780061655937


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