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.
The Harvard Psychedelic Club 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.
Don Lattin is one of the nation's leading journalists covering alternative and mainstream religious movements and figures in America. He is the author of the upcoming book Jesus Freaks - A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge. He also wrote Following Our Bliss - How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today and is the co-author (with Richard Cimino) of Shopping for Faith - American Religion in the New Millennium.
His work has appeared in dozens of U.S. magazines and newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, where Lattin covered the religion beat for nearly two decades. He has also worked as a consultant and commentator for "Dateline NBC"; "PrimeTime Live" and "Good Morning America" on ABC Television; "American Morning" on CNN and "Religion and Ethics News Weekly" on PBS.
Lattin has taught religion writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, where he holds a degree in sociology. During the summer of 2007, Lattin worked as the story editor for "News21" at UC Berkeley.
Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (now known as Ram Dass) began researching psychedelics as part of the Harvard Psilocybin Project back in 1960. The university shut down the experiments in 1962 and the rest, as they say, is history. In this clip, author Don Lattin measures the impact of LSD and other psychedelics on today's society.
Don Lattin, author of The Harvard Psychedelic Club, recounts the involvement of author and physician Andrew Weil in the firing of Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass) from Harvard for researching and experimenting with psychedelics.