The Most Dangerous Man in America
From Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis, authors of the PEN Center USA award-winning Dallas 1963, comes a madcap narrative about Timothy Leary's daring prison escape and run from the law. On the moonlit evening of September 12, 1970, an ex-Harvard professor with a genius I.Q. studies a twelve-foot high fence topped with barbed wire. A few months earlier, Dr. Timothy Leary, the High Priest of LSD, had been running a gleeful campaign for California governor against Ronald Reagan. Now, Leary is six months into a ten-year prison sentence for the crime of possessing two marijuana cigarettes.Aided by the radical Weather Underground, Leary's escape from prison is the counterculture's union of "dope and dynamite," aimed at sparking a revolution and overthrowing the government. Inside the Oval Office, President Richard Nixon drinks his way through sleepless nights as he expands the war in Vietnam and plots to unleash the United States government against his ever-expanding list of domestic enemies. Antiwar demonstrators are massing by the tens of thousands; homemade bombs are exploding everywhere; Black Panther leaders are threatening to burn down the White House; and all the while Nixon obsesses over tracking down Timothy Leary, whom he has branded "the most dangerous man in America."Based on freshly uncovered primary sources and new firsthand interviews, THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA is an American thriller that takes readers along for the gonzo ride of a lifetime. Spanning twenty-eight months, President Nixon's careening, global manhunt for Dr. Timothy Leary winds its way among homegrown radicals, European aristocrats, a Black Panther outpost in Algeria, an international arms dealer, hash-smuggling hippies from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and secret agents on four continents, culminating in one of the trippiest journeys through the American counterculture.

The Most Dangerous Man in America Details

TitleThe Most Dangerous Man in America
Author
ReleaseJan 9th, 2018
PublisherTwelve
ISBN-139781455563586
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Biography, Politics, Cultural, Mystery, Crime

The Most Dangerous Man in America Review

  • J.S.
    January 1, 1970
    Timothy Leary, a figurehead of the hippie and drug counterculture in the 1960s who famously encouraged youth to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” managed to escape from a minimum security prison in California by dangling from a telephone wire. With the help of the Weathermen, a radical group advocating violent revolution yet who mostly blew up a bunch of government toilets, he made his way out of the country and landed in Algeria, where he was taken in by the Black Panthers in exile. Add in Richard Timothy Leary, a figurehead of the hippie and drug counterculture in the 1960s who famously encouraged youth to “turn on, tune in, drop out,” managed to escape from a minimum security prison in California by dangling from a telephone wire. With the help of the Weathermen, a radical group advocating violent revolution yet who mostly blew up a bunch of government toilets, he made his way out of the country and landed in Algeria, where he was taken in by the Black Panthers in exile. Add in Richard Nixon, who in an effort to distract the public from Vietnam and Watergate called Leary “The most dangerous man in America,” and you’ve got a stranger than fiction tale from the early years of the 1970s.All this happened before I was even in kindergarten, so while I’d heard of Timothy Leary (not sure where), I knew nothing about him. I knew only a little about the Black Panthers and the Weathermen (later the Weather Underground), but this is a fascinating and often head-shaking account of Leary’s life on the lam, as he moves from California to Washington, to Alergia, to Switzerland, to Beirut, to... geez, it got a little hard to follow. The book is written in a very readable style rather than scholarly, and is often told in present-tense (which I found a bit annoying). It’s also clear that Leary, the “King of LSD” and "Pope of Dope," is a HERO in this book. Although we read occasionally of the dangerous effects the drug had on some people who took it, drug use in general is viewed in a fairly positive or at least benign light in the book and the negatives are mostly swept aside. If you’re from the “Sixties” you might like this even more than those of us from the “Just Say No” generation, but it's still a fun and interesting read. (I rec’d a free copy of the book from the publisher.)
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  • Bob Schnell
    January 1, 1970
    "The Most Dangerous Man in America" by Bill Minutaglio is one of the craziest true stories I've read about the time of Nixon where Nixon is one of the more sane people involved. It is the story of Timothy Leary on the run from American justice after escaping from prison and being declared public enemy number one. Helped along the way by hippies, Black Panthers, sympathetic governments and even suspected arms dealers , Leary's search for a safe haven is an international version of It's a Mad, Mad "The Most Dangerous Man in America" by Bill Minutaglio is one of the craziest true stories I've read about the time of Nixon where Nixon is one of the more sane people involved. It is the story of Timothy Leary on the run from American justice after escaping from prison and being declared public enemy number one. Helped along the way by hippies, Black Panthers, sympathetic governments and even suspected arms dealers , Leary's search for a safe haven is an international version of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. And he's dropping acid and smoking hash almost the entire time. The author presents the story in an entertaining manner and you'll laugh out loud at situations that would otherwise seem quite serious. It was a different time and we sure could use a jester like Dr. Leary these days.
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  • Niklas Pivic
    January 1, 1970
    From the start, it's evident that the authors of this book liked Timothy Leary. One of them actually met him, but even though this book is no real hagiography but a deep dip into one part of Leary's life—from where he was jailed, called "the most dangerous man in America" by Nixon, to his fleeing the USA, and later going back—it's a wild 28-month-long ride based on a lot of research.The authors never got the information they asked for from the US government, based on the Freedom of Information A From the start, it's evident that the authors of this book liked Timothy Leary. One of them actually met him, but even though this book is no real hagiography but a deep dip into one part of Leary's life—from where he was jailed, called "the most dangerous man in America" by Nixon, to his fleeing the USA, and later going back—it's a wild 28-month-long ride based on a lot of research.The authors never got the information they asked for from the US government, based on the Freedom of Information Act; not even Leary himself received it when asking for it in the later part of his life. Still, lots of records were found in places such as the New York Library, which the authors used to piece together an adequate picture.As such, this is a chronological fly-on-the-wall tome which is also an easy read. Sentences glide past, written in a kind of 1970s vernacular, which feels suitable to the entire atmosphere, even when dealing with the near-psychotic Nixon, hell bent on catching Leary probably as a way of turning attention away from what he did to Vietnam and the USA at the time, Kent State, Watergate, et cetera.It's fun to read of how Leary's intelligence turned Nixon's attempts to get him upside down:The government convicted him for failing to pay the federal marijuana tax, sentencing him to thirty years in prison. But Leary remained free on bond while he appealed, fighting all the way to the Supreme Court. In Leary v. United States, he won unanimously, defeating the Nixon Administration’s lawyers and striking down key marijuana laws. He celebrated his victory by declaring he would challenge Ronald Reagan in the California gubernatorial election. “Don’t you think I’ve had more experience than Ronnie?” Leary joked to reporters. He promised to legalize pot, selling it through officially sanctioned stores with the tax revenues going into state coffers. He said he would never live in the governor’s mansion—instead he would pitch a teepee on the front lawn and conduct the state’s business from there. His campaign slogan, Come Together, Join the Party, inspired John Lennon to write a song for him that the Beatles recorded as “Come Together.”It's also easy to see Leary's charisma:“Of the great men of the past whom I hold up as models,” he tells people, “almost every one of them has been either imprisoned or threatened with imprisonment for their spiritual beliefs: Gandhi, Jesus, Socrates, Lao-tse… I have absolutely no fear of imprisonment… I know that the only real prisons are internal.”Then, there's the start of The Weathermen Underground (later known as The Weather Underground):The shadowy revolutionary organization that went underground after that deadly townhouse explosion in Greenwich Village has just issued a “Declaration of a State of War” on Richard Nixon: This is the first communication from the Weatherman Underground. All over the world, people fighting Amerikan imperialism look to Amerika’s youth to use our strategic position behind enemy lines to join forces in the destruction of the empire… We’ve known that our job is to lead white kids into armed revolution… Revolutionary violence is the only way… Guns and grass are united in the youth underground. Freaks are revolutionaries and revolutionaries are freaks… Within the next 14 days we will attack a symbol or institution of Amerikan injustice. This Sunday, there are also news reports that in Ames, Iowa, the FBI has been called in to help figure out who detonated a massive dynamite bomb inside city hall that injured nine people and blew up portions of the adjacent police headquarters.[...]More bombs are erupting across the country, from New York to Chicago to Oakland. The Weathermen, the tight-knit clique of former campus leaders who have gone underground as guerrilla revolutionaries, are careening toward notoriety. They’ve taken their name from Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues”—“you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”—and are led by Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. Dohrn is a twenty-eight-year-old with a law degree from the University of Chicago. Raised in an upper-middle-class Milwaukee suburb, she was a dance student and high school cheerleader before turning to revolutionary terrorism. Her coleader, Ayers, is the twenty-five-year-old son of the president of Commonwealth Edison in Chicago. When people call him a rich radical, Ayers bristles: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at.”[...]On July 26, an explosion blows apart a sculpture of a Nike Ajax missile housed inside the Presidio, the iconic army base in San Francisco. The Weathermen issue a new communiqué: “Today we attack with rocks, riots and bombs the greatest killer pig ever known to man—Amerikan imperialism.” They sneer at Nixon’s blustery attorney general, John Mitchell, who has been targeting them: “To General Mitchell we say: Don’t look for us, Dog; we’ll find you first.” A few hours later, at 3:30 a.m., a pipe bomb explodes in the front lobby of the Bank of America in the heart of Wall Street. Chunks of marble and glass from the doors rocket into the street. Twenty minutes after the bomb goes off, the New York Daily News receives a phone call: “This is a Weatherman. Listen close. I’ll only say it once. We have just bombed the Bank of America… Tell John Mitchell that no matter what he does, we cannot be stopped.”I won't go to deep into the innards of the book as that would be spoiling it all, but there's also a lovely interview with the authors of this book as held by a representative of The New York Public Library: http://traffic.libsyn.com/newyorkpubl... - which I strongly recommend.All in all, this is a wild ride through corruption, international getaways, Nixon, The Black Panthers, international terrorism, war, psychedelics, philosophy, adventure, love, and life in total. Firmly recommended.
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  • Gerard Villegas
    January 1, 1970
    Dubbed by Richard Nixon as "The Most Dangerous Man in America", former psychologist and drug advocate Timothy Leary became the scapegoat of the president during the late 60's and early 70's as the poster-child for an anti-drug campaign. Leary, a provocateur of LSD and it's affects on the mind, was convicted of drug possession of marijuana and escaped as a fugitive overseas where he became both a martyr, folk hero, and wanted man among the public of the time period.To understand Leary's contribut Dubbed by Richard Nixon as "The Most Dangerous Man in America", former psychologist and drug advocate Timothy Leary became the scapegoat of the president during the late 60's and early 70's as the poster-child for an anti-drug campaign. Leary, a provocateur of LSD and it's affects on the mind, was convicted of drug possession of marijuana and escaped as a fugitive overseas where he became both a martyr, folk hero, and wanted man among the public of the time period.To understand Leary's contribution in the drug culture is to understand an era of civil unrest. Disenchanted with the American government due to the county's involvement in Vietnam, the Cuban missile crisis, our relationship with the Middle East, and the dissolution of racial equality, gender, and faith in the country gave way for radical revolution groups to rise up. From the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and extremist hippie drug culture, President Nixon had a lot of on his plate to deal with during his administration and what better way than to set an example by targeting a well-known drug marketer like Timothy Leary.However, Leary found himself way over his head. Naïve and not a follower of any political groups, his involvement overseas first in Algier and later in Afghanistan only made him a useless symbol to promote whatever revolutionary group's agenda. This became apparent when he was recaptured, returned to the U. S. and cooperated with the police to name all political radicals.The book itself provides an interesting perspective of a moment in history where there was disorganization and plenty of specialty groups attempting to be heard. Sadly, Leary's role is regulated to one of a figurehead than an actual significant plater of America's restless conflicts among the revolutionary groups. The book tended to ramble with Leary simply lost and confused as he encounters these organizations and became way over his head. For those wanting a more concise understanding of this period, this does not provide a clear, depth picture.It's a simply an okay read.
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  • Nofyfb Azo
    January 1, 1970
    It's a fascinating read - a time machine, really. The book covers Dr. Timothy Leary's adventures while he was a fugitive from the law. Leary's experiences provide the guideposts for the book's outstanding portrait of the state of affairs in the US during that period: Nixon, Watergate, Vietnam, the drug culture, the war on drugs, Weathermen, Black Panthers, etc. Interesting times indeed! I found the descriptions of air travel during that time as particularly fascinating... pre-9/11/TSA, and befor It's a fascinating read - a time machine, really. The book covers Dr. Timothy Leary's adventures while he was a fugitive from the law. Leary's experiences provide the guideposts for the book's outstanding portrait of the state of affairs in the US during that period: Nixon, Watergate, Vietnam, the drug culture, the war on drugs, Weathermen, Black Panthers, etc. Interesting times indeed! I found the descriptions of air travel during that time as particularly fascinating... pre-9/11/TSA, and before all of the crap that makes air travel so miserable today. I do wonder how much of the dialogue and detail in the book was manufactured under the author's artistic license. Knowing the facts, the events and circumstances, is straightforward; knowing who said what to whom, and some of the other rich details in the book clearly required some imagination. Nevertheless, I found the entire story hugely entertaining and informative, and factually accurate as far as I can tell. In summary, I feel this is an excellent book that describes a tumultuous period in history, from the late 60s through the early 70s, through the experiences of one of the period's leading actors. It's also a valuable reference point for measuring the huge changes that have taken place in the US, and the world at large, between then and now.
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  • Josh Firer
    January 1, 1970
    This was a compelling account of what Timothy Leary was up to after his most famous years as an LSD evangelist. I had known that he escaped from prison, but it was fascinating to see how that played out, as well as what his life was like on the run. The way in which Richard Nixon was obsessed with Timothy Leary was also really interesting and added a degree of conflict to the story. I wish that more time was spent talking about his later years, especially his involvement in rave culture and comp This was a compelling account of what Timothy Leary was up to after his most famous years as an LSD evangelist. I had known that he escaped from prison, but it was fascinating to see how that played out, as well as what his life was like on the run. The way in which Richard Nixon was obsessed with Timothy Leary was also really interesting and added a degree of conflict to the story. I wish that more time was spent talking about his later years, especially his involvement in rave culture and computer culture. I listened to the audiobook version of this book and thought the narrator was very good.
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  • Gary
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this book. It filled in a few large gaps in my knowledge of Leary between the time of his 1970 prison escape from California Men's Colony near San Luis Obispo, CA, until his 1972 capture in Kabul, Afghanistan. Those were some crazy times in the United States, and looking back, Nixon and Leary stand out as two of the craziest.
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  • Holly Williams
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating, and crazy, A can't-put-it-down trippy trip of a story that takes you into the world of an icon of the drug culture. Highly recommending this to my friends as a way to remember when Off The Grid was the way to go. GREAT READ!!
  • Bruce
    January 1, 1970
    A wild provocative colorful well researched literary non-fiction. Riveting chaos drawn from a crazy era when our country was led by another insane megalomaniac president (how history repeats itself). Stranger than reality, unbelievable if it wasn't true
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  • Krisette Spangler
    January 1, 1970
    The book was interesting, but I got tired of the bad language, so I stopped reading it.
  • Julian Bailey
    January 1, 1970
    Page turning time travelIf you survived the 60's you will enjoy being taken back to that crazy time. If you missed it this is an accurate report of some of the insanity. Read it.
  • Elizabeth Hall
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating look at a fascinating time in history.
  • David Glickman
    January 1, 1970
    This is an interesting story of a crazy time in America, although the times we are living through now may make the 1970s look quaint in retrospect.
  • Janday
    January 1, 1970
    At one point, both Dr. Timothy Leary and President Richard Nixon called each other "the most dangerous man in America." Following Leary's escape from prison and flight through Algiers, Europe, and into western Asia, we see Leary being held captive by Black Panthers and Scandinavian gangsters, losing his wife, and tripping all the way. Meanwhile, Nixon, obsessed with Leary's capture, drunkenly descends into near pathological levels of paranoia. The truth is stranger than fiction, y'all.
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  • Jill Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Wow. I had NO IDEA much of this story happened... I was born in 1973 - so I'm a child of the '70s literally, not figuratively. There's a lot I missed, apparently, and despite my reading about Nixon's paranoia in other forms, I had no idea he was quite so insane over Timothy Leary! This was a fascinating look at the insanity of the Vietnam and original counterculture era. The characters are almost too over-the-top to be real, yet I know they all are. Ditto the situations... From prison breaks to Wow. I had NO IDEA much of this story happened... I was born in 1973 - so I'm a child of the '70s literally, not figuratively. There's a lot I missed, apparently, and despite my reading about Nixon's paranoia in other forms, I had no idea he was quite so insane over Timothy Leary! This was a fascinating look at the insanity of the Vietnam and original counterculture era. The characters are almost too over-the-top to be real, yet I know they all are. Ditto the situations... From prison breaks to Algerian Black Panthers to domestic terrorists, this book is a wild ride. Frankly, I began to get worn down by it - it's a thoroughly presented and documented tale, but that thoroughness means that it's also a hefty one. That's not necessarily a failing - it just meant that it felt like I was reading it forever, and that I occasionally found myself putting it down in exchange for lighter, less world-is-insane fare... The writing is clear and engaging and the pictures it paints are, at times, all too vivid. It's an album, not a snapshot, of a period in time when the world (or at least our American corners of it) seemed poised on a knife's edge.
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