The Candy Machine, By Tom Feiling

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The Independent Culture

A Colombian told Feiling she was "surprised but glad" that he had made a documentary about hip-hop in her country that made no mention of cocaine. This volume makes good that omission. After getting the statistics out of the way – the UK cocaine market is worth around £1.6 billon – Feiling explores the relentless spread of cocaine across the planet.

Customarily consumed with alcohol, which extends the effect by producing coca-ethanol in the liver, it also allows users to attain intense concentration. A perfect drug for our hectic age, it "reminds the skittish of what complete engagement feels like".

After presenting a lucid case for legalising some coca product, Feiling leaves the final words to a laissez-faire Alabama pastor: "But crack cocaine? I ain't seen nothing good come from it."