Read Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction by Steven Martin Online

opium-fiend-a-21st-century-slave-to-a-19th-century-addiction

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERA renowned authority on the secret world of opium recounts his descent into ruinous obsession with one of the world’s oldest and most seductive drugs, in this harrowing memoir of addiction and recovery.   A natural-born collector with a nose for exotic adventure, San Diego–born Steven Martin followed his bliss to Southeast Asia, where he found workNEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERA renowned authority on the secret world of opium recounts his descent into ruinous obsession with one of the world’s oldest and most seductive drugs, in this harrowing memoir of addiction and recovery.   A natural-born collector with a nose for exotic adventure, San Diego–born Steven Martin followed his bliss to Southeast Asia, where he found work as a freelance journalist. While researching an article about the vanishing culture of opium smoking, he was inspired to begin collecting rare nineteenth-century opium-smoking equipment. Over time, he amassed a valuable assortment of exquisite pipes, antique lamps, and other opium-related accessories—and began putting it all to use by smoking an extremely potent form of the drug called chandu. But what started out as recreational use grew into a thirty-pipe-a-day habit that consumed Martin’s every waking hour, left him incapable of work, and exacted a frightful physical and financial toll. In passages that will send a chill up the spine of anyone who has ever lived in the shadow of substance abuse, Martin chronicles his efforts to control and then conquer his addiction—from quitting cold turkey to taking “the cure” at a Buddhist monastery in the Thai countryside.   At once a powerful personal story and a fascinating historical survey, Opium Fiend brims with anecdotes and lore surrounding the drug that some have called the methamphetamine of the nineteenth-century. It recalls the heyday of opium smoking in the United States and Europe and takes us inside the befogged opium dens of China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos. The drug’s beguiling effects are described in vivid detail—as are the excruciating pains of withdrawal—and there are intoxicating tales of pipes shared with an eclectic collection of opium aficionados, from Dutch dilettantes to hard-core addicts to world-weary foreign correspondents.   A compelling tale of one man’s transformation from respected scholar to hapless drug slave, Opium Fiend puts us under opium’s spell alongside its protagonist, allowing contemporary readers to experience anew the insidious allure of a diabolical vice that the world has all but forgotten....

Title : Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345517838
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction Reviews

  • Kavita
    2019-04-05 03:11

    This is one of the best books that I have read this year so far. Steven Martin is an enthusiast of the Chinese opium subculture, which leads him to start a collection of opium artefacts and gather more and more knowledge about them. He is one of the major experts in the world on this subject today, and has donated his entire collection to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Unfortunately, his obsession with opium paraphernalia also brought him into close contact with opium itself, and set him on a course of addiction.This book is a mish-mash of different genres on the subject of opium, each one fascinating from its own distinct angle. A deeply intimate memoir about Martin's struggle with opium addiction, the book also explores the history of opium, not just in China, but around the world. Opium Fiend is also about Martin's passion for collection of these objects, and about other similar collections. In fact, the book is chock-a-block with information on this subject.Martin's willingness to put himself in the middle of the very unique opium subculture resulted in his rediscovering much lost information on this subject. Much of the knowledge about this practice has been destroyed in China, US, and other countries, when the war on opium began. Martin admits that he might never be completely off his addiction, and there is no forever cure. He reached out to opium and opium is never going to leave him. Beautifully written, Martin pours his soul into the book and doesn't shy back from exposing his weaknesses. At times, he writes so poignantly about the lures of opium that I felt quite tempted to try some, despite his disclaimer. Thank goodness it is banned and not easily available! But this is what makes Opium Fiend rise from the run of the mill memoir to a wonderful and fascinating work.

  • Ben
    2019-04-16 03:09

    I don't do five-star anythings, often.Part of what makes "Opium Fiend" a unique and powerful book is that the author's experience is unusual. He is a collector, a traveller, an "orientalist", and he comes to specialize in opium paraphernalia. And learn more about it. And start to use it. He gets drawn into a strange, small subculture of opium bores.But what makes it *unique* is that this subculture is almost totally extinct, and the author makes himself a true expert. He gets to know what the various pieces of opium kit are for, and parlays this into a profitable line in trade. He has an appraiser's eye and skill and unparalleled expertise in the rare items he's dealing in. He tells us how so many popular portrayals are wrong, with insider's detail -- and which popular Jazz Age songs betrayed an insider's knowledge.And he does this all while getting completely, utterly addicted to opium in spectacular style, in an world where opium addiction is now almost unknown. It's as if a Japanese WW II re-enactor had fled back into the jungle in Guam.You'll not have read a book like "Opium Fiend".

  • Grady
    2019-04-19 05:05

    `Opium, the Judas of drugs, that kisses and betrays'Steven Martin has written what must have been a difficult book to put before the public. More than just a memoir of a recovered addict, and not to be confused with the innumerable other memoirs of substance abuse available to the public today, OPIEM FIEND is a history of a journey of a bright journalist, a compulsive collector of things antique since childhood, and a man whose curiosity about things Asian results in his moving after high school to the Philippines and eventually on to Laos, Thailand, and other Asian exotic paradises in search of the seduction of opium, testing the secrets of opium smoking, collecting opium paraphernalia, and eventually becoming addicted to the dangerous drug. Fortunately for the reader he was gradually able to overcome his addiction and now can share all of this experience of the history not only of his personal knowledge of opium but also a thorough history of the introduction of opium from Turkey through the British to China to public opium dens to the present state of the illegality of the drug/closure of the once popular havens of escape from reality.This reader is reminded of the first exposure to the subject while a young high school student reading Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821) - an autobiographical account written by Thomas De Quincey, about his laudanum (opium and alcohol) addiction and its effect on his life. The Confessions was "the first major work De Quincey published and the one which won him fame almost overnight..." That is a compliment as Martin's book is able to recreate the mesmerizing atmosphere of De Quincey's famous book with great skill. Few books about addiction are so well explained: Martin is after all a trained journalist and his degree of research is astounding. He is also able to take the reader through the horrors of opium withdrawal (he tried several times to cease his addiction) in a graphic and gut-wrenching manner.Martin quotes other people who have been addicted to opium, figures from history who give the book a sense of timelessness. For example he quotes Jean Cocteau: "the moral boredom of the smoker who is cured!" It was jean Cocteau again. He had been there. Speaking of his former life as an opium addict, he said: "I am ashamed to have been expelled from that world, compared with which the world of health resembles those revolting films in which ministers unveil statues." Cocteau was right. The modern world still seemed just as stupid and pointless to me as it had when I was using opium to escape it.' Passages with quotes like these illuminate the pages of this enormously readable book. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

  • Kaushik
    2019-04-04 00:49

    When Prakriti told me this is his favourite piece of narco-journalism (can it be termed this, considering that it isn't a modern narcotic?) I jumped and started reading. If I did not have pressing requirements of packing to move from one corner of the country to the other, I would have finished it in one fell puff of the pipe. It is quite an experience, living through someone's memoirs of trying to relive an extinct addiction and the need to recapture the essence of that old time, and falling and coming out of the beautiful jaws of opium. The author writes both with the panache of an expert and the guarded tongue of a deposed emperor - an emperor of his own conviction on every little ritual and fact about opium smoking. A book that is simultaneously charming, eccentric, exhilarating and saddening. In other words: a must read.

  • H.
    2019-04-07 01:59

    “Then I felt just like a fiend; it wasn’t even close to Halloween.” –Mind Playing Tricks on Me by Geto BoysIt’s probably as difficult to write a book about opium without romanticizing it as it is to make a war movie without romanticizing war. Smoking from elaborately carved pipes with hippy backpackers while lounging in an exotic, Oriental locale is certainly more appealing than the more usual opiate images of shooting up heroin with broken-toothed junkies in a flop house in desiccated west Baltimore or popping OxyContin pills with snaggletoothed hillbillies in singlewide trailer in coal dust-coated Harlan, Kentucky. Martin, perhaps recognizing this, perhaps still more than a little under opium’s spell, doesn’t try too hard. He does start with a painful and futile attempt at quitting, but much more time is spent on the beauty of Chinese and Vietnamese artwork as expressed in opium pipes and accessories and on the joys of smoking opium than on the darker side of his addiction and the wretchedness of getting clean.Opium was not, as is oft-repeated, brought to China by the British as some act of deviltry. It was brought by Arab traders in the 7th century. Modern opium “smoking” (actually a vaporization process, as Martin explains) wasn’t invented until the 17th century. The Brits did, as it turns out, encourage the Chinese to smoke opium, but for a more prosaic reason. They needed a trade good to export from one of their colonies to the China to balance Britain’s insatiable appetite for tea. Their efforts were so successful that China’s leaders started two literal trade wars—the Opium Wars—to stop the trade imbalance. The reverberations were far-reaching. Britain got what is now Hong Kong and poppy cultivation would forever more be big business. Nor did the Chinese introduce opium to America as is commonly believed—but they did introduce that better way to get high.Opium Fiend is as much a book about collecting as it is about opium. It’s not really my field of interest (I care for neither memorization nor stuff*), but it’s fascinating in Martin’s able hands. Maybe a bit too much so. Martin’s obvious love for the accoutrements of the habit shows through, and he spends far more time on that than on the darker side of things. It also raises an interesting question. Martin was able to become perhaps the world’s foremost expert on opium antiques in part because of his willingness to experiment with opium esoteric and discover long forgotten uses. Was his sacrifice worthwhile to rediscover this knowledge? Is this knowledge we even want rediscovered given how much harm it can cause?Opium makes for an odd sort of fiend. But it’s the same old story. Fresh to his habit, Martin’s early descriptions adopt a condescending tone. “Physically, opium was energy. A few pipes and I was enveloped in an electric skin. . . . Mentally, opium was a welling euphoria followed by a serene sense of well-being. The effects . . . were gradual and subtle, washing over me like a succession of tender caresses. A juvenile lust for kicks would not likely be satisfied by [high quality opium’s] leisurely and deliciously nuanced mental banquet.” Later, he learns the truth of an obscure description of opium addiction: “The shackles that he has lazily and indolently riveted upon himself now refuse to be unloosed, and he finds himself bound to an idol that he despise.” His initial attempts to quit are painful and embarrassing failures, and he eventually gets professional help and admits he is, forever more, an addict.*Books excluded.Disclosure: I won an ARC of Opium Fiend through a Goodreads giveaway.

  • Andrea
    2019-04-14 01:57

    I feel almost guilty how much I adored this book, if for no other reason as the wealth of knowledge it contains about a drug that had a huge effect on world history and now is almost forgotten. But I think the real power lies in the author’s personal story of scholarship, obsession, and eventual addiction. Martin’s tale of wandering around Asia in search of “home” reminds me of some of the best of Tony Bourdain’s travel writing/journalism. He stumbles upon some of the few remaining opium dens in existence and becomes obsessively fascinated by the culture, the history, the tools and artifacts of opium smoking, and the other smokers. It was almost frightening reading the passionate fire he develops for every nuance, ritual, and ornate detail of opium smoking because I complete understand the high of losing oneself in an intellectual passion like this. There is so much detail packed into this book and it is unique among nearly all published works on the topic. Martin should know since the book discusses his ever-deepening research, scouring out any and all works written about opium use, traditional smoking tools and set up, and even more literary works produced by known or reputed users. There are times the world he describes is dangerously seductive, but I think he did an elegant job of balancing the way opium use cast a dream-like quality over his own life and the horrific physical agony of his own withdrawals and quit attempts and the death of others while trying to quit. This book is amazing read for anyone with an interest in Asian history, the physiology of addiction/drug abuse, traditional Chinese ritual and artifacts, or the history of opium use. I have read so many books set in our about Asia and while many reference opium use/abuse, after reading this book I realize I understood nothing about the whole thing. An amazing and gripping read and one that I know I will remember often as I encounter opium references in books, movies, music and history. It’s like a door has been opened to a shadow world and now I see references and details everywhere. That the mark of an amazing book!

  • Monica
    2019-04-24 03:48

    BAM!The opening of this book hits you like a ton of bricks. Descriptive passages of going through withdrawal and the intense feelings connected with addiction portrayed made me sick to my stomach reading about it. The book slows down a bit from there but the connection between the author's OCD-ish collecting of ancient opium smoking utensils and the meticulous decline into drug addiction are woven together wonderfully.I didn't know much about opium going into this book. I learned more than I ever would have wanted to know. The author talks about that he is convinced that inanimate objects had feelings. I love this brief (very brief) passage. I felt connections that I was unable to feel with most other passages speaking of drug addiction.The path to recovery was also interesting. The change in feelings, friendships and world views was articulated well. I like how the author chose to end the book as well. Not too messy, not too pretty.Overall, a dip into a world that I am far from and knew little about. I am glad that I was able to view through the peephole the little sections of this world that the author shared.

  • Nancy
    2019-04-26 07:05

    What I seek in a memoir is the chance to step into a life unlike my own. A good writer with an interesting life story can make me feel as if I know a world that is totally different from my own. Steve Martin succeeds in writing this type of memoir. Yes, this book is about addiction. But it is more than that. It's about Asian history, collecting and art. It also does not follow the story arc I expected which makes it all the more a story of one man's life. I received this book as a first-reads win from goodreads. (It's a great program. Check it out.)

  • Amar Pai
    2019-03-30 22:57

    Fascinating. This book really makes me want to try smoking chandu (high grade opium specially designed for smoking-- of course you have to do it using an opium pipe, which is essentially a vaporizer. Didn't realize all these details mattered, but of course they do. Martin is very convincing on this front)You have to be suspicious of any drug memoir that only focuses on the lows and never conveys the highs. Opium Fiend is not guilty of this.

  • J Rushing
    2019-04-08 04:59

    This book is a very honest, beautifully, written, and deeply engaging look into opium smoking and everything surrounding the topic. I read it for research on a novel I'm writing and the quantity, quality, and accuracy of the information found here is excellent. I also read de Quincey's book and found this to be far superior and far more useful. The former is vague, flowery, and self aggrandizing. This book is none of those those things. Definitely worth a read.

  • Pat Padden
    2019-04-26 03:02

    Whew. People will sometimes go to really, really, REALLY extreme extremes to screw themselves up - no matter what sort of brainiac they are (or think they are), and this book proves it. Worth reading for the look at a lifestyle so exotic you can hardly imagine it - and a "hobby" so esoteric and frankly strange that I still don't know what to make of it - but I can't help but feel sort of contemptuous of a guy with this much going for him who can't stop short of self-immolation like this. Just stupid, so far - but I'm only 2/3 of the way through the book. I hope it ends on a... ummm... high note. Postscript: I finished the book this morning, and after wondering for part of it whether this was on a par with Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" scam, I think not. Opium seems far too seductive for anyone to flirt with it for the sake of writing a book, and Steven Martin's excruciating detail about opium smoking, withdrawal, and the altered states of consciousness and physical sensation produced by the use of both high-grade opium and its dross seem genuine because they are so nuanced. I think once you're hooked (and he is), you're hooked. This ain't no "A Million Little Pieces" scam - I think the guy just wrote his own obituary. I think it's a worthwhile read, and well-written, but Steven Martin isn't a likeable human being, and his idea of an "exotic life" sounds more like a living death to me, and full of hedonistic, amoral, unmoored people who only think they know the value of things, be they antique opium paraphernalia or friendships. Yuck.

  • Marnie
    2019-04-16 01:47

    This book opens with the author experiencing severe withdrawal from opium and then backs up to walk you through the years to get him to that point; from the obsessive collecting of paraphernalia, to dabbling in smoking and finally to full on addiction. I only leave myself about a half hour to read, most nights, and each night I was reading this book, I stayed up well past that allotted time just to read a little bit further.

  • Gary Quien
    2019-04-13 00:10

    A true and cautionary tale written by an eager and meticulous "art collector" of museum-level opium paraphernalia, who is slowly drawn into an addiction, in spite of his efforts to resist, and almost loses his life to the insidious drug.

  • Kenneth Sherman
    2019-03-27 00:04

    Martin is a dedicated collector, but has a hard time finding something to permanently interest him while living in Bangkok. He becomes interested in opium paraphernalia and not only acquires a collection, but becomes an expert in it. His interest in learning about the paraphernalia and opium usage and addiction becomes the dominant thing in his life. We learn that opium smoking spread across Europe and the U.S. as well as much of Asia (Not Japan, however.) Smoking chandu was an art in itself and the smokers of it despised those who smoked the lesser but possible more potent dross-(residual matter from the prep. and smoking of opium.) An effective drug war against opium pretty much has ended its use except in its other forms like heroin. We find out that it is the vapor that is sucked into the lungs rather than the smoke and it creates a different sort of high. The Chinese felt it as best used by older people as the young people became less efficient and were less able to appreciate the high. The phrase "pipe dream" comes from the optimism associated with the high.After collecting for awhile, Martin becomes fascinated by the techniques of smoking and learns how to set up the equipment, roll the pills, rest on the wooden and porcelain couches and smoke. He knew of two dedicated smokers-one in Laos and one in Bangkok with whom he could smoke. At first he felt it was "research" but later it became an addiction that was hard to quit. In Trainspotting, Renton said that heroin withdrawal makes your worst alcohol hangover feel like a wet dream. Yet, we find out here that opium withdrawal is often fatal. He attempts it and fails miserably until finally he seeks help at a monastery famed for helping addicts withdraw. He was the first opium addict to check it there in decades but their therapy in which he has to vomit for five consecutive days works. I don't know if I believe in therapies that get rid of "toxins" but I think routines like that work. The body craves the drug and it is not the ridding of "toxins" but the denying it of toxins and changing the routine of drug usage that works. Anyway, he succeeds, but he discusses possibly going back to it as an old man, since that is the time to use it! I read this book avidly and feel that Steven Martin shared a habit and lifestyle that has been long gone, but was so prevalent that he said now finding a few "farang" in a isolated Laotian village as some of the last opium smokers was like in a 100 years only finding wine drinkers in one small bar drinking from cracked 100 year old wine glasses.New vocabulary--- dross ---chateau d'yquem

  • Patrick
    2019-04-14 06:11

    SPOILERS AHEADStarts with a whimper (because the author is trying to detox himself from opium) and gets progressively more irritating.Martin's an expat writer in southeast Asia who becomes obsessed with collecting opium paraphernalia and ultimately with opium smoking itself.Not just any old opium smoking, either -- this is the most refined form of opium. And it's actually vaporized, not burned, but "opium vaporization" doesn't sound as good.It eventually catches up with him, and Martin goes to an unconventional rehab.This works for a while, but he gets back to it, and admits at the end he is still obsessed.Recovered alcoholics call this a "dry drunk" -- someone who quits drinking but doesn't do much else about things. The dry drunk winds up miserable and usually starts drinking again.So I feel sorry for this Martin guy, kind of. But nothing on earth is going to make me read all this endless bullshit about opium gadgets again. Nor his similar crap about the super-refined high from the highest quality stuff. A lot of addicts think their high is the bestest, most bad-ass high around, and that other drugs are just weak sisters. This Martin is no different. I've seen the same attitude and obsession with ritual in heroin addicts, crack addicts, alcohol addicts. This is the same thing in book form. The extra length doesn't make it more interesting.He's a good writer. This would have made a great long article somewhere.Also includes a different version of the Hunter Thompson/Fall of Saigon story, if anyone cares.

  • Nicole G.
    2019-04-17 23:58

    So, so close to five stars. And halfway through the book, it was. If you're like me, perhaps you start reviewing a book in your head before you've finished it, and then you think about it again when you are done, and at times, it's totally different.This book is fascinating. Mr. Martin pulls back a curtain and shows us a dark secret from another time - opium. The author, fascinated with Asian culture, happens upon the paraphernalia that made up opium smoking and begins to collect pieces. Over time, he finds ways to experience those heady, dark days of dens of iniquity, beginning as a social exercise. These social engagements, however, start to happen more frequently, and soon, Mr. Martin is having to sell some of his collection so that he can feed his ever growing habit (which also starts to become solitary, the hallmark of addiction). And it's during this latter half of the book, when he begins to talk to other people and is met with surprise when he admits his addiction to opium, that made me take off a star. The author is kind of a pompous ass, and it bleeds into his writing in a fashion that started to grate. However, the photographs and quotations from books in the 1800s and early 1900s regarding opium were intriguing, and of course, I had to find out if he kicked his habit. Overall, still a good read, and perhaps the author's tone won't bother you. Still worth it for the history lesson.

  • Jennifer Bowers
    2019-04-01 07:05

    This book was fascinating and tragic all at the same time. Steven Martin is an American expatriate in Asia who took up collecting opium smoking paraphernalia. In the process, he learned the lost art of smoking opium, something he thought he could control, but which controlled him in the end. In the process of telling his story, he tells the truth behind the opium wars between China and the British Empire, and many other interesting historical facts about the drug. For example, this time a century ago, opium-smoking was still legal and widely practiced in the USA. It was also very popular in Singapore, of all places!Also, Martin found many of his best pieces of paraphernalia, in brand-new and unused condition, in the attics of people in the American South. I could relate to the reason for this: missionaries would often bring home opium pipes and lamps as souvenirs for their supporters and friends. They made interesting "knick-knacks" on people's shelves, but eventually made their way to the attic, where their owners' descendants forgot what they were and eventually offered them on eBay, usually wrongly identified; but Martin learned the key words to look for in his search for such collectibles.The story of his friend's death from opium withdrawal, because no modern doctor could recognize the symptoms when she was arrested in the States, is disturbing and tragic.

  • Lisa Williams
    2019-04-05 04:07

    Even though I was fascinated with the subject matter and setting of this book, I was reminded of the fact that ultimately, addicts are not very interesting people. It was as if the author, even upon writing about his past addiction is still unable to relate to what may or may not be relevant to a sober audience. There are pages upon pages of intricate descriptions about how he used the opium paraphernalia and how many pipes he smoked in a sitting etc. A brief description of these things might initially be fascinating to the average reader, but only another addict would understand the compulsive manner in which these rituals are described over and over again. That being said, this tendency in the writing is in and of itself a very direct view into the mind of a person addicted to narcotics, and didn't necessarily lead to my putting the book down. Instead, I just began to skim over the "junkie" pages that seemed to be an alternate form of getting high for the author but which became tiresome and redundant for the reader towards the end of the memoir. Over all, I enjoyed this book very much and would especially recommend it to anyone interested in the history of opium in the Orient.

  • Melissa
    2019-04-01 06:53

    I am very eager to start reading this!! I've read some of the reviews to see what others are saying about it, good or bad I'm looking forward to find out for myself! Curiosity, though, sometimes gets the best of me! I am, however, a bit frustrated to read that some people think that because the author is interested in Asian culture and is a scholar and uses a drug that, to them, seems archaic, he is what? On a higher pedestal than your average heroin addict that "chooses" this "vice" and is a "nobody"....the ignorance level blows my mind. Perhaps keep the review on the book and leave that pointing finger of judgement at home. My heart hurts, not for the addict, but for those that toss around big words and pretend to know what it's like in the shoes of another. If you're unable to help someone, maybe it's time to shut your mouth and stop hurting someone. Opium, heroin, morphine, crack, alcohol etc etc etc, an addict is an addict is an addict. If books are your thing perhaps you could read The Big Book or The Basic Text? Get a better understanding of all the "nobodies" that find the "meaning of life" and don't peak your interest because their drug use isn't white collar cookie cutter enough for you!!

  • Julie
    2019-04-05 01:57

    This fascinating book was not only a memoir about Martin’s bizarre decent into opium addiction, but a treatise on the history of opium smoking throughout the world. His extensive knowledge originated with his obsessive collection of antique opium paraphernalia. An expat in Southeast Asia, Martin had a curiosity for all things oriental, and he figured the subject of opium was esoteric enough to corner the market. But amassing a huge collection of opium accoutrements inevitably means sampling the wares. What began as “research” into technique became an addiction that ruled his life. He luxuriated in the idea that the methods he followed were all but forgotten and he uses his experimentations in antiquity as an excuse to fuel his habit. I thought Martin told his story very well, incorporating captivating historical tidbits and even some humor. His experiences were certainly unique and he did a great job keeping me engaged.I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

  • Wilson E. Stevens Sr.
    2019-04-17 03:12

    The description of the book covers the contents very well. I found it a rather upsetting book in what one person believes he can do drugs with out a penalty, and ends up failing. It also shows why Opium got such a bad reputation, and why it is so controlled in every country in the world. If you would like to learn about collecting Asian antiques, as well as drug addiction, this is a good book. However it is also an upsetting book because of the fraud in antiques going on, and the drug use discussed, as well as other vices pointed out at times. I am not sorry I read it, but don't recomend it to family members or friends as it has no redeeming qualities except knowledge.

  • Prakriti
    2019-03-28 04:47

    MIND FUCKED! This is an amazing book, the obsessive and meticulous and honest and intelligent memoirs of a SANE guy. The opium is an ever present backdrop, but this is essentially the author's story felt and what a bloody story! The writing is masterful and very, very engaging, in that he explains his pleasures, his fascinations, and he builds them up, like he felt them, like he experienced them, down to some specific texture his fingers experienced, it is an enchanting experience reading this book. I very highly recommend it.

  • Christine
    2019-03-28 00:57

    I won this book from a Goodreads Giveaway. It was phenomenal. I can't remember ever reading a book that was so honest and enlightening. I learned a ton about opium, it's effects, and paraphernalia. More importantly, I learned about the author's personal struggle. What started as research ended up in addiction. The fact that he lived to write the book proves how strong willed he is. I highly recommend this book. It didn't have a single slow point. It was easy to read and to understand. It was informative and interesting. Overall, it wasn't a good-read, it was a great-read!

  • David Ward
    2019-04-19 07:00

    Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction by Steven Martin (Villard Books 2012) (Biography) is a fascinating book about an uncommon but widely known substance of myth. This book describes in excruciating detail how a young (forty year old) American expat living in Thailand became addicted to a drug which is hardly known in the 21st century and the horrifying result. My rating: 7.5/10, finished 8/8/12. Reread 5/4/17; it's just as fascinating the second time.

  • Brian
    2019-03-27 23:43

    Well-written, horribly fascinating, never fails to hold the reader's attention and so on but Martin's a ridiculous character -- he so thoroughly immerses himself in the culture surrounding opium that his addiction approaches minstrelsy. Fifty or sixty years from now, heroin addicts will spend large sums of money turning their rooms into meticulously accurate recreations of an early 90s Seattle shooting gallery.

  • Marcus
    2019-04-26 07:05

    A chitty chatty memoir by Steven Martin, an individual that goes from collecting opium paraphernalia to becoming a serious opium smoker is remarkably endearing. Much information is shared along with humorous stories about Hunter S. Thomas in Vietnam and Sean Flynn in Cambodia. The ending is very poignant! Good read....now where is my pipe?

  • Marcia
    2019-04-25 05:56

    I read the book with interest, wondering at the extreme lengths to which opium addicts will go to continue this disastrous downhill journey. I actually did feel sympathy with the author as he narrated his downfall and recovery. Except you never recover ... and reading about his hope to contract a fatal illness so he can jump headfirst back into this hellhole just left me ice cold.

  • Tricia Tierney
    2019-04-10 03:05

    I picked this up on a whim, intrigued by the exotic setting and subject and always compelled to read about addiction. It began as an interesting account of a collector's obsession and by the end, I felt like I was speeding downhill and couldn't put it down. Found myself trolling the internet wanting to know more about the characters and subject. Compelling.

  • Tom
    2019-04-25 04:50

    Amazing read. The book had a few slow parts after a fast opening, but recovered nicely. Opium Fiend is the true story of an American living in Thailand who makes the slow descent from collecting opium artifacts to full-blown addiction. It's a really eye-opening look at an addiction and lifestyle that is rapidly dying out.

  • Michael
    2019-04-09 01:09

    Whilst a bit convoluted and repetitive, the book does draw the reader into a remarkably beautiful and dangerously bad habit. I can't say that the read was enjoyable, but it did make me feel a lot. Not sure whether or not I would recommend it.