Reviews of COCAINE POLITICS (co-authored with Jonathan Marshall) (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991)

(on short list of seven nominees for Best Book, Mencken Award, 1992)

Gary Webb, “This incredible volume was one of the first things I read when I began researching the issue of Contra cocaine trafficking for the San Jose Mercury News in 1995. To call the experience an eye-opener is a major understatement. Cocaine Politics not only confirmed to me that the Contra-drug link was for real, but that it was just a small part of an even more insidious picture: a secret and practically invisible world where intelligence operatives and criminals collude, wreak havoc, and almost always escape prosecution and accountability. When a producer from Dateline NBC, which did a show about my Dark Alliance series, asked me for recommended reading material on this issue, I unhesitatingly recommended Cocaine Politics. His reaction afterwards was memorable: “This is the most amazing book I’ve ever read. How come I’ve never heard any of this stuff before?” The answer is pretty obvious once you read this book. If the American public ever got wind of this story, our country and our government would never be the same again.

John Lowman, Annals of the American Academy, Vol. 527, Religion in the Nineties, May 1993, 175-76: “Because of its painstaking documentation, Cocaine Politics is must reading for anyone interesting in developing a humane and workable drug policy. To this end, it cobtains a vital political message: `one of the first targets for an effective drug strategy should be Washington itself, and specifically its support for corrupt drug-linked forces in the name of anti-communism.’ On the basis of the evidence they present, it is difficuly to disagree with Scott and Marshall’s conclusion that no approach will succeed until Washington’s complicity with the drug markets is ended and until crime is taken out of the drug markets; to this end, they advocate a strategy of `controlled legalization.'”

Publisher’s Weekly, April 26, 1991: “This important, explosive report forcefully argues that the `war on drugs’ is largely a sham…. The authors unearth close links between the CIA and Latin American drug networks which provide U.S. covert operations with financing, political leverage, and intelligence….Scott…and…Marshall call for immediate political action to end Washington’s complicity. Their heavily documented book deserves a wide audience.”

Library Journal, June 1, 1991: “Extensive interviews, government records, and secondary sources (enough, in fact, to produce over 60 pages of cited sources), are used to document in great detail how the war on communism took precedence over the war on drugs. An authoritative account of a crucial but underpublicized issue.”

Prof. Arthur Schmidt, H-LatAm (April 1999): “an important starting point for examining the role of narcotics in U.S. policy toward Central America and the relationship between the CIA and drug trafficking.”

Current History, February 1992: “provides some intriguing insights into the way government-supported covert operations open new channels of drug distribution around the world.”

Louie Estrada, The Times of the Americas: “Combing through hundreds of documents, conducting interviews with government officials, journalists, mercenaries and drug dealers, Scott and Marshall piece together the complex picture of the convoluted contra-drug trafficking scandal, U.S. involvement in covering it up and how the entire episode mirrors past CIA handling of right-wing narcotics operations.”

David Rieff, Newsday, July 14, 1991: “…unlikely to be bettered soon.”

Christopher Hitchens, “Minority Report.” Nation, Aug. 12/19, 1991, 184: “For the evidence that narcotics and other `controlled substances’ (an absurd name for an absurd notion) have been instruments of U.S. foreign policy, you simply have to read Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America, by Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall. This, one of the most enlightening books of the year, will redefine your usage of the silly term `drug war.’ When you see those two words from then on, you will think of a covert war financed by drugs. And that is as it should be.”

Marilynn Larew, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 22, 1991, N9: “Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall expand on revelations in the Iran-Contra scandal and the 1989 Kerry Committee Report. They assert persuasively that the CIA has long-standing alliances with men who deal drugs while doing dirty tricks for us in Latin America. The links go as far back as 1961 and the Bay of Pigs. Their story, however, is about the contra war, in which drug money paid for arms, the planes that carried `humanitarian aid’ in flew drugs out, and Latin American colonels made fortunes on drugs destined for American streets, all with our government’s connivance….The core of the book, the adventures of Jack Terrell…the soldier of fortune who tried to blow the whistle on the contra drug dealers, is taut as a thriller. Mr. Terrell found himself on Oliver North’s list of enemies, dogged by the FBI, smeared in news leaks and silenced by a federal indictment….He may be lucky. Other witnesses are dead….The authors appear to evaluate the murky evidence in the government documents and news stories temperately. The thesis rings true.”

Marilyn Larew, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, September 22, 1991, 9: “The core of the book… is taut as a thriller.”

Michael Levine, Interview, November 11, 1991 “I think that there are two books which every American should read before they even think of voting. One is “COCAINE POLITICS” by Peter Dale Scott, and the other is my own book [“DEEP COVER”, Delacorte Press, 1990]”

Robin Ramsay, Tribune (London), 30 October 1992, 8: “Building on the courageous (but largely ignored) investigation by Senator John Kerry’s terrorism and narcotics subcommittee into the Contra-cocaine-CIA connections, the authors pile up layer after layer of further evidence of those links. The result is a dense, massively documented indictment of American foreign policy….This incredible indictment has been put together from published sources, ranging from Congressional inquiries to underground newspapers. This wonderful piece of research is, by a mile, the best book yet on the disgusting foreign policies of the Reagan era.”

U.S. Dept. of Justice, User Guide to NCJRS Products and Services, ACCN: 134347: “This book presents an analytic perspective on the facts of the Central American drug connection and provides information to fill the significant gaps left by the Kerry report of the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations.”

Robert Ito, Los Angeles Magazine, 43, 4 (April 1998): “Recently updated with reports from the crack war in LA., Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall’s explosive text reveals how the federal government allegedly got into bed with some of the worst elements of the international drug trade, then used the guise of national security to hide it from the American public.”