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Cocaine. “Crack” Book by David Farber

Crack: Rock Cocaine, Street Capitalism, and the Decade of Greed, written by David Farber, is a history of destructing poor communities of the United States by cocaine. It tells the reader about the roots of crack cocaine and the political response to the drug. It also gives examples from the lives of drug dealers and addicts, and the ways the authorities of the country tried to stop them.

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Crack is a drug made as a combination of cocaine and baking powder; it appeared in the market long after ordinary cocaine. It went a long way through history: first, it was acceptable for medical purposes, but then it was proven to be destructive and dealers began selling it. In 1922, a government act made it “unlawful to import any narcotic drug into the United States” (Farber, 21), but many patients continued to purchase cocaine products from pharmacists. In the beginning, cocaine as a drug was aimed at white people of the upper class, but people of lower status and other races commenced using it as well.

The period of the 1980s to 1990s is now regarded as the crack years in the United States. The book by David Farber pictures these times for the whole nation, focusing on New York City communities, such as Manhattan’s Harlem and Southland in Queens. The drug caused the most harm to poor and often black neighborhoods. “Users who believed they had to smoke crack to find pleasure and release from their dire circumstances and the distributors who saw in the destruction of their neighbors the quickest route to their desires” (Farber, 6). This is the way Farber explained why the biggest damage was inflicted on these groups.

Crack demonstrates the dark side of XX-century capitalism. During that period, cities changed industrialization to a service economy. People were losing their jobs and, in many cases, their hopes. Some of the victims began to take drugs to escape from their difficult life situations; others turned to sell drugs to make a living. Farber effectively depicted the influence and consequences of that time. “Crack, cheap and easy to find, was there waiting for ex-offenders who had no clear path to a better life. Crack dealers were happy to provide it to a set of new or returning customers” (Farber, 51). By these words, the author shows the situation that existed in many neighborhoods at that period.

The author gave many good quotes of people caught up in the crack scene, which makes the book emotional. As an example, there are words of a short-term dealer Corey Pegues, who later became a New York City Police Department Deputy Inspector. Pegues explains why he went into dealing: “You see these dealers, and they are living the American Dream… It was impossible to hang around people selling drugs and making money and not get caught up in it” (Farber, 45). The author gives the story of the man as one vivid example of a real person caught in drug dealing.

In his book, Farber explores the ways crack was distributed in the United States. He tells about the ways gang leaders defended their territories inciting violence. He also points out that the crack culture was associated with hip-hop as some artists were drug dealers. He provides examples of the Chambers brothers and Jay-Z to show the way people were making their first fortune in drug dealing.

Farber also tries to explain the political movements made in response to crack, demonstrating how politicians of all political stripes passed racially-biased laws that implied more strict punishments for crack dealers than for cocaine dealers. Initially, there were strongest measures for black community leaders until it resulted in the imprisonment of record numbers of young black men. As the result, they failed to change those punitive policies due to the political popularity of the drug war. That way of focusing on African Americans made it objectively racist. This book shows the uselessness of regarding drugs as a matter for law enforcement, ignoring the socioeconomic environment.

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The young black men who lived in poor neighborhoods considered drug sales as a unique economic opportunity. Those districts had long been the places of an underground economy with gang activities, unlicensed shops and bars, and hundreds of other illicit enterprises. Authorities often ignored those black markets, either because of corruption, negligence, or genuine racism. Residents of those districts were habituated to the racist attitudes of the police and they had no incentive to cooperate with the authorities to fight illegal markets, including sales of crack. Many Afro-American politicians and community leaders fought those criminal activities and racist policies, but that was a hard battle, and it is not completely transparent even today.

In conclusion, Farber’s book is more journalistic than analytical, but it provides a lot of details that make it insightful and help understand the roots and reasons of the crack crisis in the United States. The author does many things that were not given coverage in history before. He provides vivid examples of real people who were caught on drug-using and dealing and tells facts about government policies that were undertaken at that time. Historically, many of those occasions were hidden from the public’s attention what interferes with people understanding the roots of that crisis what does not allow making the right conclusions in order not to face the situation again. The principal goal of the author’s research is to prevent new generations from repeating the history as modern drug users are looking toward alternatives to opioids.

Work Cited

Farber, David. Crack: Rock Cocaine, Street Capitalism, and the Decade of Greed. Cambridge UP, 2019

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StudyCorgi. (2022, February 8). Cocaine. “Crack” Book by David Farber. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/cocaine-crack-book-by-david-farber/

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