"Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In" - by Robert Forte
His admirers have compared him to Socrates and Galileo Galilei; he was called �the most dangerous man alive,� by then-President Richard Nixon. He was, at various points a Harvard Professor, a respected psychologist, a renowned writer of fiction and non-fiction, an academic outcast, a �stand-up philosopher,� a convict, and a fugitive. He testified before the U.S. Senate, hosted some of the 20th century�s greatest artists, thinkers, writers and musicians at Millbrook Mansion, spent time with Eldridge Cleaver and the Black Panthers, escaped from Folsom prison, toured as a lecturer, made a film with his old nemesis G. Gordon Liddy, and, while incarcerated in Folsom, occupied a cell next to Charles Manson.
Dr. Timothy Leary was unquestionably one of the most consistently fascinating, thought-provoking, and controversial figures of the second half of the 20th century. By turns brilliant, naive, charismatic, and contradictory, Leary was a tireless advocate for psychedelic drugs and their roles in examining and expanding human consciousness. He pioneered the idea of �set and setting� determining the outcome of one�s drug experience, urged the 60s generation to �turn on, tune in, and drop out,� (a slogan he later lamented was woefully misinterpreted), and, perhaps most importantly, held a deep conviction that psychedelics ought not remain in the hands of the academic and scientific elite, but should be available for all to use as tools of self-improvement and discovery. This pivotal decision to democratize psychedelics, like much of the rest of Leary�s colorful life, resonated through myriad aspects of our culture, and continues to do so nearly 20 years after his death.
In 1999, five years after Leary died, Robert Forte, who has served on the board of directors of the Albert Hofmann Foundation and is the editor of Entheogens and the Future of Religion, brought together a veritable who�s who of psychedelic writers, musicians, artists, scientists and academics to look back on one of the largest lives lived in the last 100 years. Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In includes interviews (most conducted by Forte himself) and contributions from the likes of Terence McKenna, Hunter S. Thompson, Winona Ryder, William S. Burroughs, Aldous Huxley, Dr. Andrew Weil, Allen Ginsberg, and many more. Outside Looking In is a multifaceted, engrossing reflection on one of 20th century America�s most prominent, maligned, and misunderstood historical figures. It honors Leary, and yet never shies away from discussing the most difficult and troublesome aspects of his complex persona, or the ramifications of his turbulent, public life and work during the 60s and 70s. Both for those already knowledgeable of Leary, and those who simply appreciate a vivid, compelling portrait of an extraordinary man, his life, and times, Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In is sure to please. Highly recommended.