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An intelligent and authoritative history of opium -- a drug that has both healed and harmed since the beginning of civilization.Poppy tears, opium, heroin, fentanyl: humankind has been in thrall to the "Milk of Paradise" for millennia. The latex of papaver somniferum is a bringer of sleep, of pleasurable lethargy, of relief from pain -- and hugely addictive. A commodity without rival, it is renewable, easy to extract, transport, and refine, and subject to an insatiable global demand.No other substance in the world is as simple to produce or as profitable. It is the basis of a gargantuan industry built upon a shady underworld, but ultimately it is an agricultural product that lives many lives before it reaches the branded blister packet, the intravenous drip, or the scorched and filthy spoon.



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