A Terrible Tragedy

Richard Rockefeller wasn’t just a famous name, he was a wonderful man, a physician who devoted himself to victims of the world’s many traumas and for 21 years was chairman of the United States Advisory Board of Doctors Without Borders. I got to know Richard personally while reporting my book Acid Test. Just last week he wrote me a wonderful blurb for the book jacket, kind, thoughtful and generous. Richard was a tireless supporter of the promising clinical research which is proving that MDMA assisted therapy is of potentially tremendous benefit to people with trauma-induced psychological disorders for whom conventional therapy has been woefully inadequate. This morning, Friday the 13th, Richard took off in his small plane from an airport in New York. Something went wrong. The plane never reached cruising altitude and almost immediately went down. He was the only one in the plane, and died on impact. There was so much he was looking forward to now that responsible investigations of the use of psychedelic drugs in therapy were beginning to win acceptance in mainstream culture. He’d already done so much to make that happen. His loss is great, but what he contributed to the world should not be forgotten.

Publisher Weekly’s Review of Acid Test

Note the cover in the table of contents:


PW Review of Acid Test

Kirkus Reviews Acid Test

The first pre-publication review of Acid Test:


LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal
Author: Tom Shroder

Review Issue Date: July 1, 2014
Online Publish Date: June 11, 2014
Publisher:Blue Rider Press
Pages: 448
Price ( Hardcover ): $27.95
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-399-16279-4
Category: Nonfiction


A well-respected journalist offers evidence, both empirical and anecdotal, about the therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs.

The late comedian Bill Hicks, prone to taking what psychedelic bard Terence McKenna called “heroic doses” of mushrooms, used to refer to the use of drugs as “squeegeeing open your third eye.” In this cleareyed account, former Washington Post Magazine editor Shroder (Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence For Past Lives, 1999, etc.) explores both the complex history of the issue and the current thinking on the use of LSD, Ecstasy and other psychotropic substances for healing troubled minds. Thankfully, the author only briefly touches on the usual tropes—there’s a thoughtful chapter on Aldous Huxley’s introduction to LSD, after which he wrote, “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, Just take a pinch of psychedelic,”—but Shroder skims over old stories about Ken Kesey, Owsley Stanley and Timothy Leary that have plagued authentic researchers for years. Instead, the author tells his complex story via three men: Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies; Michael Mithoefer, a former emergency room doctor whose interest in exploring his own mind led him to become a trauma psychologist; and Nick Blackston, a U.S. Marine whose war experiences are characteristic of the waves of soldiers returning from war with catastrophic PTSD. Occasionally, the stories are amusing: At one point, Doblin was being considered for an internship at the Food and Drug Administration. Upon being turned down, he thought, “Now I can still smoke pot and don’t have to wear a suit.” More often, they’re moving—e.g., Mithoefer’s assistance with a variety of patients, many of whom spoke on the record about their experiences, to discover what the doctor calls “inner healing intelligence.” Add to these stories a perceptive criticism of the failings of America’s war on drugs, and Shroder delivers an important historical perspective on a highly controversial issue in modern medicine.

An observant argument for understanding a society through the drugs it uses.

Northern Virginia Magazine Profile Piece Online

The writer, Helen Mondloch’s, day job is teaching kids English. You can see the English teacher in how much of my stuff she read, and how carefully, before interviewing me. I really appreciated that. You can find the article here.

Overwhelmed Debuts at #10 on NYT List

As I was leaving the Post in 2009, joining forces with Brigid Schulte to conceive and produce the book that became Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When There’s No Time was my first editing project. I remember telling my terrific agent Gail Ross about it and urging her to take a look. (She did, and she became Brigid’s agent as well.)  “Publishing catnip,” was the phrase I used. It took almost five years to prove that true, but as of next week, Overwhelmed will be #10 on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list — a rare accomplishment for a journalist (ie: non-celebrity, non-motivational guru) with a serious, heavily researched topic. It’s very gratifying, and all too rare, when a book of high quality also has great commercial success.

ACID TEST Available on Amazon

My upcoming book, Acid Test, is already up on Amazon. It doesn’t come out until Sept, but you can avoid the fall rush and pre-order here.

(A little insider publishing secret: all pre-orders count as week one purchases, which all counts toward making those bestseller lists).

Overwhelmed in Amazon Top 20 Third Day in a Row

Ever wonder what it takes for a book to move into the top-5 on Amazon’s sales list in a given day? Well my most recent editing project to see print, Brigid Schulte’s Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, made it to #4 on its first day out, and I have it on credible insider authority that it sold 1600 copies on Amazon alone that day. The book about the time crunch that has come to dominate modern life  has stayed in the top 20 for three days now, and making the NYT bestseller list is looking increasingly possible.

My Tom Ridge Interview

I met up with Ridge in his posh office in downtown DC and found him charming, down-to-earth, and surprisingly eager to talk. His answers were thoughtful and direct. Wish all Republicans were more like him. The interview appears in the latest issue of Bethesda Magazine.

Overwhelmed Soars to Top of Amazon List

Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte, my first book-editing project after leaving the Post in 2009 (and four years in the making), officially published today and shot right to the top of Amazon (#9 at 3 pm) off a morning appearance on NPR. Still, I’ve seen LOTS of books get NPR time, and almost none of them ever get that big a boost on Amazon rating (top 1000 is more common.) Old Souls only ever got to #12 — after a mention in the New York Times week in review — and that book sold 115,000 copies and is still at it. But this is the very first day of publication for Overwhelmed, whereas Old Souls only got that spurt months later — which means: Overwhelmed has a very good shot at making the NYT bestseller list, as first week sales include all the pre-sold books as well. Go Brigid.

Overwhelmed — Years In the Making

Overwhelmed, the sure-to-be-impactful book by Brigid Schulte that was my first post-Post editing project, publishes on March 11, going on five years after our first lunch meeting to discuss what a book exploring why our lives have become so frantic would look like. I’m proud of Brigid and proud of the book. She’s done something substantial and even groundbreaking. There have been a lot of books blathering about our over-subscribed lifestyles, but Brigid’s is the first that marshals all the research and penetrates the mysteries persuasively. Look for it on the bestseller list.