• The Harvard Psychedelic Club

  • How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America
  • By: Don Lattin
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 7 hrs and 47 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (229 ratings)

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The Harvard Psychedelic Club

By: Don Lattin
Narrated by: John Pruden
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Publisher's Summary

It is impossible to overstate the cultural significance of the four men described in Don Lattin's The Harvard Psychedelic Club. Huston Smith, tirelessly working to promote cross-cultural religious and spiritual tolerance. Richard Alpert, aka Ram Dass, inspiring generations with his mantra "be here now". Andrew Weil, undisputed leader of the holistic medicine revolution. And, of course, Timothy Leary, the charismatic, rebellious counterculture icon and LSD guru. Journalist Don Lattin provides the funny, moving inside story of the "Cambridge Quartet", who crossed paths with the infamous Harvard Psilocybin Project in the early '60s and went on to pioneer the mind/body/spirit movement that would popularize yoga, vegetarianism, and Eastern mysticism in the Western world.

©2010 Don Lattin (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"[Don Lattin] has created a stimulating and thoroughly engrossing read." (Dennis McNally, author of A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead and Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America)

Featured Article: The Best Audiobooks About Psychedelics to Take You on a Trip


In recent years, the use of psychedelics and hallucinogens has been objectively researched and even included in talk therapy and guided meditation. After all, inducing a different state of consciousness can expand our understanding of ourselves. Learn more about the use of these drugs throughout history and explore the potential health benefits with the best audiobooks about psychedelics to take you on a fascinating listening trip.

What listeners say about The Harvard Psychedelic Club

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A Fascinating, Engaging Story, Expertly Told

I finished this book in record time for me, just three days. Lattin is an engaging storyteller and expertly weaves together a multitude of threads into a complex, engaging and detailed story. I appreciated the way he addresses areas of ambiguity, such as the complex and often contradictory personality traits and actions of Leary and Alpert (now known as Ram Dass). I was fascinated by Andrew Weil's role in the dynamic, as I only knew him as the natural health guru and hadn't realized he'd been associated with them--not to mention the role he played in getting them fired from Harvard. And it came as a revelation that author Aldous Huxley--whose Brave New World I read in high school-- was at the forefront of experimentation with psychedelics and played an important role in their introduction to the mainstream. I was born in the sixties, so I never learned much about that time other than that Timothy Leary worked at Harvard University and brought LSD to the masses, telling them to "Turn on, tune in, drop out." I was rapt hearing how everything had unfolded. Lattin also shows how each of these four men's personal paths unfolded, moving from Harvard to the San Francisco hippie scene, to their explorations abroad and the knowledge they brought back that changed society yet again. This is an enjoyable listen for anyone who wants to understand how the sixties counterculture began and probe more deeply into the early days of psychedelics, from how their effects were at first studied by psychologists to how they changed the lives and outlook of an entire generation..

6 people found this helpful

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It’s “Drop Out, Turn On, Tune In”

Found the book enlightening as I was able to connect people I have met with those I knew about. Now some of the people in the book I knew were involved, I just didn’t know how.

One thing both the author and many others didn’t understand was the phrase “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” which was publicized by the news media, and was actually a play of words by the trickster Leary. The mantra was really “Drop Out, Turn On, (then)Tune In”. One needs to Drop out of ones humdrum existence and Turn On to understanding life, then Tune In back in to life.

Also along with the psychedelic Experience book there was what I called the lab manual by Leary called the psychedelic Prayers.

4 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!

This is a great book! Got this book on a wim and was very pleased.

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Great story

I loved this book. I've followed Ram Dass for years, and was great to hear his and the other 3 guys story.

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  • SJ
  • 07-16-20

A Lot I Didn't Know

I am a "child" of the era, but there were quite a few things in here that I never heard of.

1 person found this helpful

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What does it all mean?

Interesting vignettes of 4 very influential people and a movement.

Would've liked it to have been a bit more in depth, either with broader historical accounts or of the science of psychadelics.

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loved it.

an interesting look at how these lives intertwined and influenced one another. I loved it.

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can't get enough of this stuff. I love the history

I love the history of psychedelics in the western world. there's know denying that these guys changed the course of humanity.

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An unexpected gem of a book

When I first got this book, I didn’t expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. The book is really well written, full of humor, and very informative about the lives of four men who greatly impacted America during the stormy 60s.

The narrator is also very good, I laughed out loud at many sections of the book, and appreciated his way of reading throughout the entire thing.

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Great insights!

This is a great book about four people in the early days of acid use and how they changed American culture.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-17-18

Fascinating characters

The psychedelic revolution remains one of the most important ongoing challenges to the established power structures of society. The four men at the centre of this story - Leary, Alpert, Weil and Smith - are absolutely crucial figures in that story. Understanding their struggle can serve to highlight the revolutionary potential - and pitfalls - in our own times.

I absolutely adore the way the book focuses on the right four people, but it does not execute fully on that promise. The author is enamoured by glitter. The narrative is shallow, hurried and uninspired. Potential revelations and insights are left unexplored while the author glues the narrative onto journalistic superficialities. The patchwork of the text feels like an untended garden - crammed full of exotic (and hallucinogenic) plants.

There are gems of insight, especially around Weil's sleazy duplicity and attempts at reconciliation, and around Ram Dass's struggles with his homosexuality. These are not enough to elevate the book much above mediocrity.

My biggest gripe, related to the superficiality aspect, is that it is just not long enough: I would have liked to hear much more backstory and anecdotes. Spreading the narrative thin over four luminary authors - each of whom deserves a book-length treatment of his own - serves to highlight how much content is left unsaid.

The tight pacing has its advantages and disadvantages. The scintillating brilliance and tragic flaws of the main characters are amply in display and the flashy story remains entertaining all the way through. But the reader is left wanting more. And better.

The book is an essential appetizer. But where's the main course?

2 people found this helpful

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  • Joe B
  • 07-31-19

Great read

I was slightly skeptical about this book, after reading "How to change your mind" and " psychedelic explorer" I wasn’t sure if this was going o something I’d enjoy or be regurgitating stories I’d heard before. Its a great book that’s been really well narrated. It gives more insight into a time in history that’s sadly gone. I definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in this era but would say “how to change your mind” is on another level and gives more research insight which I was more interested in.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Unicorns & Trees
  • 02-16-22

Interesting read

Interesting take on the journeys of Leary, Alpert, Smith and Weil. The book covers their lives in a broader spectrum.. in conjunction with cultural changes that were simultaneously taking place.

Recommended for anyone interested in the dynamics of new age spirituality and psychedelic experiences

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  • Louis Raubenheimer
  • 01-01-21

What a story!

The men who transformed the way the world looks at consciousness. Especially relevant for those who believe in self-discovery by way of psychedelics.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-17-21

4 Men Looking for Answers

A fascinating recount of a really cool moment in history. It's well narrated and was a curious pleasure to read.