“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Popular opium references 2015

Posted: December 21st, 2015 | No Comments »

I’ve been spotting opium references in popular culture with interest for a few years now (2014, 2013 & 2012) – just how opium keeps fascinating us…However, 2015 was not a vintage year, but wasn’t a total loss either (or maybe I just read the wrong books and watched the wrong TV and films?)….


Ray Celestin’s The Axeman’s Jazz had a very nice opium den scene circa 1919 in New Orleans while the latest Ross Duncan novel from Christopher Bartley, To Catch is Not to Hold, had some laudanum in 1930s Chicago. Dennis Lehane’s World Gone By had a few opium hooked gangsters and doctors down in 1940s Tampa. Alan Massie’s third book in the Inspector Lannes series set in wartime France, Cold Winter in Bordeaux, featured some laudanum under the Vichy regime. Of course we could rely on Amitav Ghosh who published the third in his Ibis trilogy, Flood of Fire, which took us right up to the brink of the opium wars with every paragraph having a crib from Hobson-Jobson. Meanwhile Lawrence Osborne’s Hunters in the Dark had opium fuelled ex-pats in modern day Cambodia.

On the tele season 3 of Ripper Street saw a young girl dosed up with laudanum in Victorian Whitechapel – Ripper Street has been a good source of opium related mentions since it started and long may it continue. Copper has ended now so we won’t get to see the lovely Elizabeth Haverford (below) topping up her sherry with a little opium powder anymore. Meanwhile, over at the Union-Pacific Railway, Doc Durant found solace in a tincture of opium in series 2 and got himself mightily hooked in Hell on Wheels. Being in the UK I’m a bit behind with Hell of Wheels, but hear series 5 has a Chinese opium den out on the railroad!!

indexElizabeth Haverford just can’t resist a tincture in New York….


Meanwhile, out West, the Doc needs a little pick-me-up too…



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