Much can be learned from Dr. Kennedy's thorough description of the socioeconomic and political issues surrounding Qat in Yemen that can be applied to questions of stimulant use and abuse.' Dr. Sidney Cohen, Former Director of the Division of Narcotic Addiction and Drug Abuse, NIMH, Washington D.C., USA John Kennedy is an excellent researcher. In his latest book he has broached an important and timely topic: mood altering substances and social life centering around them. The society is Yemen - traditional, troubled, unusual and interesting; the drug is 'qat' - a charmed leaf chewed by large sections of the population. The research is thourough, carried out by a large team, sensitive to the complexity of Yemen and the importance of the subject. Kennedy reports the findings of many researchers and summarizes the state of play on mood altering substances and the medicinal, botanical, and anthropological research concerned with them. It is a valuable book which describes Yemeni society from the perspective of 'qat'. Those interested in the area or subject will find it essential.' Nur Yalman, Professorr of Social Anthropolgy, Harvard University '... an ambitious and model interdisciplinary study ... The book like its subject, is a stimulant that brings heightened lucidity and mental excitement, followed by meditative contemplation ... A bench -mark study for medical and cultural anthropology as well as for drug policy makers.' Michael M.J. Fischer, Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology, Rice University, Texas 'I recommend this book as good reading and as an exemplary model of an interdisciplinary ethnobotanical study.' G. Prance
This book concerns the use of the drug qat in North Yemen (Yemen Arab Republic), a country lying on the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula. However, because this substance is so interwoven into the fabric of society and culture, it is also necessarily about Yemen itself. The history and culture of South Arabia are still relatively unknown to the rest of the world, and the drug qat, so widely used there, is equally unknown. Thus, the material we present here should be of interest to all of those concerned with drug use, those who wish to understand more about Yemen and the Middle East, and to the Yemenis themselves. Another purpose is to develop some general understandings about sub- stance uses and their effects which are less clouded by the mass hysteria and political considerations which often obscure drug issues in our own society. Examination of drug-use patterns in a country where millions of people are users on a regular basis, and where there has been familiarity with the drug for several hundred years, offers an opportunity to achieve perspectives not possible in countries with different attitudes and without such histories.
I am not sanguine about the prospects of our abilities to learn from others or from the past, but I do not think we should abandon hope of doing so.
Now retired, JOHN G. KENNEDY is professor emeritus of anthropology and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he taught for twenty-five years.