Yale University Press

US    UK










‘Jay is a leading expert on the history of Western drug use, and Psychonauts is the latest in a series of excellent studies’   New Yorker

‘Richly detailed and frequently illuminating’   The Times

‘A wide-ranging and lavishly illustrated account…expands our minds in critical ways’   Science

‘Fascinating…not something you get taught at school’   The Guardian

‘Complex and riveting…readers should expect quite a trip’   Booklist, March 15 2023

‘Jay deftly guides the reader through the most confounding puzzles about our mind’s picture of reality, about meaning-making, truth and illusion. A gorgeously-written, page-turning pleasure to read’   Brian D. Earp



‘Why Scientists Need to Get High’: interview with Steve Paulson at Nautilus

Also at Nautilus, an edited book extract: ’19th-Century Trippers who Probed the Mind’,

‘The Ether Dreams of Fin-de-Siècle Paris’, illustrated extract at Public Domain Review

‘The Lost World of James Lee’: twenty years on the trail of a 19th century psychonaut

‘The Wild Frontier’, profile and interview with John Doran for the Quietus

‘The 19th century ‘psychonauts’ who pioneered experimental drug use for scientific research’, ABC News (Australia)



Bureau of Lost Culture with Stephen Coates

Kinokuniya USA with Ariel Valdez (video)

Late Night Live, ABC (Australia) with Phillip Adams

BBC History Extra (paywall), ‘Mindbending Experiments: How Drugs Shaped Modern Science’

New Books Network with Claire Clark

Yale University Press with Claire Barnes



‘Eye-opening…a welcome reconsideration of the role drugs play in life, medicine, and science’   Publishers Weekly

‘Excellent…in these descriptions of travelling medicine shows, rowdy music hall acts, 19th century laboratories, the birth of psychoanalysis, the advent of modernism, the uncharted frontier of analgesia and anaesthesia and the demi-monde of Paris, we sense times which were in many ways more exciting and more revolutionary than the 1960s’   the Quietus

‘With this rich, nuanced account, Mike Jay posits the War on Drugs as a blip on the long, proud and very influential history of self-experimentation with psychoactive substances by artists, scientists and philosophers – the titular explorers of the mind’   Carlyn Zwarenstein

‘Breezy and profound, Psychonauts is a wildly entertaining history of drugs…a total blast’   Ben Westhoff

‘…a kaleidoscopic array of dense but fluid narratives, organized by substance and packed with colorful personalities, and collectively offering a crucial argument with significant implications: that psychoactives have played an absolutely central role in the experience and self-understanding of modernity.’  Erik Davis, Burning Shore

‘A fantastic book…the people who created the architecture by which we talk about consciousness were heavily involved in experimenting with mind-altering chemicals…highly recommended’   Nick Gillespie, Reason podcast (starts at 48:50)