BOOK REVIEW: Project MK-Ultra Vol. 2 by Brandon Beckner, et. al.

Project MK-Ultra Vol. 2: Sex, Drugs, and the CIAProject MK-Ultra Vol. 2: Sex, Drugs, and the CIA by Brandon Beckner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Release Date: November 15, 2022

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Volume Two continues the story of CIA’s crazy “experimentation” with LSD, ultimately leading to the fall of the MK-Ultra program. The story is built around strange but true events, but there is a fictionalized element, particularly with respect to the investigative journalist (Seymour Phillips) whose presence in the story is used as a mechanism to tie together events that may or may not have had much overlap in terms of common personnel. That is to say, fiction isn’t just used to make the story more intriguing (a tale this strange hardly needs much help in that department,) but to both fill in knowledge gaps (famously, most of the MK-Ultra files were destroyed) and to make a throughline connecting somewhat disparate events. The focus is on events surrounding Ronald Stark as well as the widening spillover of LSD from CIA programs into the civilian space – e.g. the birth of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters.

The art in this book is amazing. Of course, much of it has to capture the sensory bizarrerie of psychedelic experiences, and it does that creatively. However, even the “sober” panels are colorful and present a captivating world. There’s a full-page depiction of Chinatown that blew my mind.

If you’re interested in a story built around the CIA’s dalliances with LSD, and the subsequent spillover into the civilian world, I’d highly recommend the two volumes of this book.

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