Don’t fight sober
- BuyShooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare by Łukasz Kamieński
Hurst, 381 pp, £25.00, March 2016, ISBN 978 1 84904 551 3
- BuyBlitzed: Drugs In Nazi Germany by Norman Ohler
Allen Lane, 360 pp, £20.00, October 2016, ISBN 978 0 241 25699 2
In October 2013 a Time magazine article entitled ‘Syria’s Breaking Bad’ alerted Western media to the prevalence across the region of a little-known stimulant drug, Captagon. Lebanese police had found five million locally produced tablets, embossed with a roughly stamped yin-yang symbol, sealed inside a Syrian-made water heater in transit to Dubai. In October 2015 Captagon made global headlines when the Saudi prince Abdel Mohsen was intercepted at Beirut airport with 32 shrink-wrapped boxes and eight leather suitcases containing two tons of top-grade pills, valued at £190 million. By this time rumours abounded on all sides in the Syrian war that Captagon was fuelling a grim cult of battlefield atrocities. An investigation by Vanity Fair in France last April uncovered a trail of testimonies and video images of pumped-up soldiers and ‘zombies roaming, all smiles, across fields of ruins and severed heads’. Caches of pills in ports and abandoned villages supplied the evidence.
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