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  • Business History Review, Winter 2009, Vol. 83 Issue 4, p858-860. "A brilliant book, rich and mind-bending... Unlike most others on the subject, Happy Pills seeks not to condemn or celebrate but to understand. I find it hard not to praise it too much, not to become a marketing tool urging its wider distribution and intellectual consumption... Written with verve, it offers myriad ways to understand the complexity and range of its subject. Not only does it illuminate American drug cultures; it also demonstrates the rich interplay of invention, marketing, advertising, expertise, regulation, medical practice, and consumption."

  • New England Journal of Medicine, February 19, 2009, p. 841-844. "Excellent... stresses the dynamics of sex roles and social class that underlie the culture of psychotropic drug use. He grounds the success of tranquilizers in the consumer culture that emerged after World War II, emphasizing the shrewd marketing techniques that allowed drug companies to separate their products, which appealed to a largely white, middle-class constituency, from the illegal drugs that were used by marginalized racial, ethnic, and class groups. Drug companies also promoted the tranquilizers in ways that reinforced traditional sex roles, implying that their products would allow men to strengthen their authority at home and in the office and would allow women to embrace their duties as wives and mothers."

  • American Historical Review, Jun 2010, Vol. 115 Issue 3, p868-870. "Herzberg eloquently guides us through the world of happy pills in post-World War II America... Happy Pills is an engaging, insightful, and well-researched book that makes a strong contribution to the historical and social study of science."

  • Journal of American History, Dec 2009, Vol. 96 Issue 3, p908-909. "Welcome and informative... a kind of protest against the tendency to assume that the issues surrounding psychiatric drug use can be reduced to scientific or technological factors."

  • British Medical Journal, May 27, 2009, p. 338. "Do read this book. It will make you even more thoughtful about your next prescription for antidepressants."

  • Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Fall 2009, Vol. 83 Issue 3, p637-638. "The book admirably achieves its main aim: describing the reception of tranquilizers in the popular imagination of postwar America. It also draws attention to the important issue of happiness as an increasingly medicalized commodity in that context."

  • Technology & Culture, Apr 2010, Vol. 51 Issue 2, p528-530. "This well-crafted book combines historical perspectives with the enduring issues of consumerism, patients' rights, ethical principles, and the role of pharmaceutical companies in marketing medicines."

  • Journal of Clinical Investigation, July 1, 2009, p. 1744. "Herzberg does an excellent job of expounding on the interplay of social, cultural, and commercial forces that influenced the rise and fall of these blockbuster drugs."

  • Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Spring 2009, Vol. 45 Issue 2, p163-164. "By placing human action at the heart of this culturally rich history, Herzberg has written a masterful account of the travels of 'happy pills' from Madison Avenue to your medicine cabinet."

  • Medical History, Jul 2010, Vol. 54 Issue 3, p428-429. "This extremely well-written and well-researched book demands, and deserves, a wide audience."

  • Sociology of Health and Illness, November 2009, p. 1115-1116. "Herzberg is a social historian and meticulous auditor of the progress of psychotropic medication in the USA... On the one hand these drugs offer escape from the stresses and strains of socio-economic relations; on the other hand they are a direct product of those relations.

  • Pharmacy in History, 2009, Vol. 51 Issue 3, p141-142. "Truly a dizzying array of data on the history of the science, commerce, marketing, medicine, psychiatry and psychology, all aspects of the history of the pills, is a major achievement... Herzberg's book, exemplifying history of medicine as a thoroughly interdisciplinary field, is important and timely."

  • History of Psychiatry, Sep 2010, Vol. 21 Issue 3, p361-362. "An excellent starting point from which to explore many changes in post-war American psychiatry, changes that have affected the way in which we conceptualize, analyse and treat mental illness."

  • Contexts, Spring 2010. "An incisive cultural history that documents the transformation of these medications into 'happy pills' for the middle class."

  • BioSocieties, 2010 (5), p. 149-153. "Highlights important implications of the cultural embrace of lifestyle drugs for dealing with everyday problems of living."

  • Psychiatric Services, November 2009, Vol 60 (11). "A timely book, persuasive and well documented."

  • Choice, 2009. "Herzberg deftly explains the dispensing of 'happy pills' within the prism of Cold War class consciousness while the US fought a discordant contemporaneous 'war on drugs.'"

  • Metapsychology, 2009. "[Avoids] heated debates between advocates of psychotropic medication such as Peter Kramer and vocal critics such as Peter Breggin and David Healy. Instead, Herzberg shows us how the meanings attached to such drugs evolved from a complex interplay of shifting interests, including those of marketers, patients and doctors. Although the story is a complicated one, it is highly readable and Herzberg tells it using plain, non-technical language."

  • Social History of Alcohol & Drugs: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Winter 2010, Vol. 24 Issue 1, p59-61.  "Compelling and sophisticated; succeeds at elucidating complicated cultural processes and interactions by using cultural theory in an engaging and clearly written way, stressing multiple players and cultural agendas, as well as their unpredictability."

  • ISIS: Journal of the History of Science in Society, Mar 2010, Vol. 101 Issue 1, p258-259. "Well crafted; Herzberg's emphasis on the way that cultural attitudes lent meanings to drugs allows him to delve more deeply [than other existing literature] into the gender-, class-, and race-based implications that accompany the history of pill popping."

  • European Journal of American Culture, 2010, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p173-178.

Blurbs and other mentions:

  • "Herzberg steers a very steady course through dangerous waters. Happy Pills is a beautiful read, its thesis engaging, and its style well-paced and fresh. Its non-technical language and focus on the interaction between drugs and the broader culture should appeal to many readers regardless of specialization." (David Healy, author of Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder)

  • "Happy Pills in America offers an extraordinary analysis of how tranquilizers and antidepressants were as much a part of the post-World War II consumer society as suburban living and the car culture. Whether Americans bought or sold, advertised or prescribed, embraced or condemned these feel-good pills, they participated in commodifying the 'good life.'" (Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America)

  • Discussed in Louis Menand, "Head Case," New Yorker, March 1, 2010.

  • Author interview on Points: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drug History Society

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