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Heavy Traffic

The Global Drug Trade in Historical Perspective

Author Ken Faunce

Publication Date - 21 October 2020

ISBN: 9780190696238

192 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

Each title in the Roots of Contemporary Issues series gives students the opportunity to engage with the contours of a historical argument


Growing directly out of the experiences of a team of historians at Washington State University who designed a new foundational course for WSU's common requirements, the Roots of Contemporary Issues series is built on the premise that students will be better at facing current and future challenges, no matter their major or career path, if they are capable of addressing controversial and pressing issues in mature, reasoned ways using evidence, critical thinking, and clear written and oral communication skills. To help students achieve these goals, each title in the Roots of Contemporary Issues series argues that we need both a historical understanding and an appreciation of the ways in which humans have been interconnected with places around the world for decades and even centuries.

Much of the world's politics revolve around questions about the development of the international market for drugs; the roles merchants, government officials, and drug manufacturers played in shaping this market over time and space; and the process of globalization. There are no easy answers to these questions, but the decisions that all of us make about them will have tremendous consequences for individuals and for the planet in the future.

Heavy Traffic helps students to understand globalization not as an inevitable or natural process, but instead as one that is created by and responds to a variety of human motivations. Examining the international trade in coffee, alcohol, opium, heroin, and cocaine, which have had a significant impact on economies and societies in countries around the world, it offers insight into globalization as a historical process, thereby helping to make sense of today's interconnected world, where products grown or produced in only a handful of places circulate widely, with varying impacts on local populations.


  • Introduces students to history from the point of view of controversial and pressing issues they already know about and many of whom already feel invested in. This increases students' engagement, particularly for general education or required history courses.
  • Every chapter models the analysis of primary sources relevant to the subject. This allows students to imagine the variety of sources available to them for historical research, and to see how historians use different kinds of sources to make conclusions.
  • Every chapter models the engagement with and ways to resolve historiographical debate, helping students to understand that differences of interpretation do not preclude the respectful development of reasonable conclusions.
  • Where appropriate, chapters demonstrate how historians and scholars in other fields rely on one another. Helps non-majors and general education students understand how history can relate to other fields in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
  • Chapters offer depth by offering case studies in world history. Students are able to see the details of a historical argument and narrative instead of relying on surface level descriptions of historical developments.
  • Each chapter models historical knowledge as constructed, not absolute, by describing recent discovery or new conclusions that have changed historians' understanding of the past, or gaps remaining in the historical records. This allows students to understand history not just as the changing events of the past, but as a process of knowledge construction still ongoing today.
  • Connects pre-modern to modern history explicitly. Additionally, each chapter includes both Western and non-Western content. Allows readers to understand the deep past as connected to the present, and to see that the West has interacted with non-Western regions for centuries.

About the Author(s)

Ken Faunce is Associate Professor of History at Washington State University.

Table of Contents

    List of Maps and Figures
    About the Author
    Series Introduction: Connecting Past and Present

    Introduction: The Globalization of Drugs

    Chapter 1. Drugs and Early Modern Globalization
    Coffee: An Indian Ocean History
    Tobacco: An Atlantic Ocean History
    Rum: Global Maritime Trade
    Caribbean and North American Rum
    The Eighteenth Century: A Global Trade in Drugs

    Chapter 2. The Commercialization of Opium and Cocaine
    Opium and Cocaine Before the Eighteenth Century
    Eighteenth-Century Trade Patterns
    Industrialization and Global Commercialization
    The Industrial Revolution
    Mass Production and Advertising: Patent Medicines and Coca-Cola

    Chapter 3. The Globalization of Drugs Through Imperialism
    Drugs and Early Imperialism
    The New Imperialism
    The Role of New Imperialism in the Growth of the Drug Market

    Chapter 4. Prohibition and the Civilizing Mission
    Demon Rum: Temperance and the Failure of Prohibition
    Opium Eaters and Cocaine Cowboys: Ending the Menace
    The Rise of Global Illegal Markets

    Chapter 5. Postwar Globalization: Cold War Empires and Drug Wars
    Drugs in World War II
    Postwar Drug Trade: Cold War Politics
    The Global War on Drugs

    Conclusion: High Society

    About the Cover

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