Rediscover: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

In the mid-1960s, Ken Kesey and his communal band of Merry Pranksters toured the United States on a psychedelic school bus named Further, consuming copious quantities of psychoactive drugs and hosting Acid Test parties, from which they dispensed LSD-laced Kool-Aid in a semi-spiritual quest for "intersubjectivity." Kesey (1935-2001), poet, essayist and author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, considered himself a bridge between the '50s Beats and '60s hippies. He and the Pranksters helped sow the seeds of flower power counterculture on their cross-country travels, and were also friends with the Warlocks, later known as the Grateful Dead.

Journalist and author Tom Wolfe was along for the ride. In The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968), Wolfe uses the subjective, immersed style of New Journalism to chronicle his experiences--first at Kesey's house in La Honda, Calif., then road-tripping with the Pranksters, culminating in legal troubles that sent Kesey to jail. He meets Beats, Hells Angels and a whole lot of hippies, all immersed in the developing eye of a growing countercultural hurricane. The 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love is a fine time to retake Wolfe's wild ride. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test was last published by Picador in 2008 (Picador, $18, 9780312427597). --Tobias Mutter

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