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Agents of Chaos
Thomas King Forçade, High Times, and the Paranoid End of the 1970s
By Sean Howe
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- Hardcover $30.00 $38.00 CAD
- ebook $15.99 $20.99 CAD
- Audiobook Download (Unabridged)
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The life and time of High Times’ enigmatic founder Thomas King Forçade, an underground newspaper editor and marijuana kingpin who—between police raids, smuggling runs, and outrageous stunts—battled both the US government and fellow radicals.At the end of the 1960s, the mysterious Tom Forçade suddenly appeared, insinuating himself into the top echelons of countercultural politics and assuming control of the Underground Press Syndicate, a coalition of newspapers across the country. Weathering government surveillance and harassment, he embarked on a landmark court battle to obtain White House press credentials. But his audacious exploits—pieing Congressional panelists, stealing presidential portraits, and picking fights with other activists—led to accusations that he was an agent provocateur.
As the era of protest faded and the dark shadows of Watergate spread, Forçade hoped that marijuana could be the path to cultural and economic revolution. Bankrolled by drug-dealing profits, High Times would be the Playboy of pot, dragging a once-taboo subject into the mainstream. The magazine was a travelogue of globe-trotting adventure, a wellspring of news about “the business,” and an overnight success. But High Times soon threatened to become nothing more than the “hip capitalism” Forçade had railed against for so long, and he felt his enemies closing in.
Assembled from exclusive interviews, archived correspondences, and declassified documents, Agents of Chaos is a tale of attacks on journalism, disinformation campaigns, governmental secrecy, corporatism, and political factionalism. Its triumphs and tragedies mirror the cultural transformations of 1970s America, wrought by forces that continue to clash in the spaces between activism and power.
- "Like an obsessed detective hunting a man without a face, Sean Howe has turned the life of Tom Forcade into a detailed metaphor explaining why the seventies were sublime, why the seventies failed, and how those two things are intractably connected. No stone has been left unturned, and many have been overturned twice."—Chuck Klosterman, author of The Nineties
- “Sean Howe, an intrepid spelunker of America’s underground archives, takes us on a dizzying ride through the hazy, contentious, loopy world of American radicalism in the 60s and 70s. In Tom Forcade, Howe has found the perfect character for tracing the multifarious histories of the era, from hippies to Yippies to Zippies, from the parties and protests to the sativa-smogged subbasements where idealists, pranksters and conspiracists clashed. Richly drawn, deadly serious. utterly comical, this book gave me a contact high!”—Joe Hagan, author of Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine
- “A gob-smacking roller coaster ride through the 1970s. Who knew the ‘Me Decade’ had such a wild, frightening, and, yeah, chaotic underbelly? An unending marvel chronicling the unsung hero of the underground press. Time to remove ‘un’ from ‘unknown’ and finally bestow Tom Forcade, faults and all (there are many!) to his rightful place among the founding fathers of First Amendment freedom fighters.”—Tom O’Neill, author of Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties
- "Who was Tom Forçade? A revolutionary guru? A hippie con man? An undercover cop? In Sean Howe’s brilliant book, he’s a weird one-man secret history of Seventies America, a mystery man who keeps showing up everywhere from the early underground press to the punk-rock explosion. Agents of Chaos turns this bizarre tale into an obsessively fascinating and addictive epic, like a countercultural thriller. This book is a jigsaw puzzle that also turns out to be a mirror."—Rob Sheffield, author of Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World
- On Sale
- Aug 29, 2023
- Page Count
- 432 pages
- Hachette Books