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The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Written by: Tom Wolfe
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
Length: 13 hrs and 37 mins
Categories: History, Americas
5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Tom Wolfe - one of the 20th century’s foremost voices in cultural criticism - went from local news reporter to international icon in 1968, with the publication of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Now voiced with vivacity and vigor by Audible Hall of Fame narrator Luke Daniels, the non-fiction swan-dive delves into the world of hippies, hedonism, and everything in between. 

To most, Ken Kesey is best known as the author of the celebrated novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. But for Tom Wolfe, Ken was the leader of the Merry Pranksters, a band of counter-culture bohemians who traveled cross-country in a far-out, brightly painted school bus they dubbed Furthur. The Pranksters were known for drug-fueled escapades, none more famous than the so-called “Acid Test”, wherein a party full of people would take LSD in an effort to escape the banality of reality and connect on a higher, subconscious plane. As Wolfe follows the group down their nonconformist rabbit hole, he’s led on a wild trip through the backwaters of the 1960s, encountering the era’s living legends - from The Grateful Dead to Allen Ginsberg - along the way.   

©1968 Tom Wolfe (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • JE
  • New York, NY
  • 2019-03-29

Extremely well-narrated

This is maybe the most effective audiobook I’ve yet experienced. As a text, the book is such a flurry of description, mood and energy that it can get exhausting. Here, the narrator embraces Wolfe’s manic prose in a way that carried me along and made me love the language. The book is wild, vivid and unruly, and this production helped make it feel like a lived experience.

42 of 44 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • S. Phillips
  • Dallas, Tx United States
  • 2019-04-11

Maybe it resonated with a different time and place

I have read other works from Tom Wolfe and enjoyed them. I'm a fan of "gonzo journalism" and the kind of realism and embedded story telling that Wolfe pioneered. I'll even stipulate that this book accurately reported what happened.

None the less, it's not for me. I'm a Gen Xer so I didn't grow up fearing some vague hippie threat and I don't have fears or hang-ups about drugs or people living different lives. You want to drive around high as a kite in a whacked out van with loud speakers, you do you. But when one starts doing "outrageous" things to try and "freak out" others......eh, that's where I get off the trolley. You're not revolutionary. You're not leading people to some hidden truth. You're just being a jerk.

And that's what this book was. Page after page of stoners doing things for the sole purpose of trying to get a rise out of people. It's amusing once or twice. 100 pages in you start wondering who is trying to prove what to whom.

The audiobook performance isn't bad. Daniels changes voices and inflections appropriately. The performance may have been why I kept listening to the book long after checking out on the story (I got a little more than halfway through).

211 of 228 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kelvin E Dodson
  • 2019-03-11

A great one

Definitely in the top 3 audio books I've listened to. Wonderful. Delightful. Hilarious. Couldn't stop listening. Great performance, really added character and clarification to the interesting personalities. I felt that the voices helped me understand the characters on a deeper level than if I had simply read it.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Jacobs
  • 2019-06-10

Bizarre.

This book is... not what I expected. It's hard to understand what is actually happening a lot of the time. The author recounts these events to you like you are both on acid at an afterparty at 3AM. It devolves into poetry at many points. There is a LOT of expired slang and pop culture references. For your reference,

Heads = People who do acid ("acid heads")
Straights = People who don't do acid
Spades = Black people

That ought to make the intro a bit less confusing for you.

Also, be warned that the narrator takes it upon himself to really embody the craziness of all the people the author describes. His voices are quite over-the-top.

That said, it's a alright book about a bunch of crazy people that did a bunch of acid in the 60s and did a bunch of crazy stuff.

39 of 46 people found this review helpful

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  • Alan Chudnow
  • 2019-04-22

Great Reading

I loved Luke Daniels reading of this story. He really brought it to life and in a way vastly superior to what my own reading of the text would be. The story itself is an interesting story of a failed experiment in changing the world. If I could, I would certainly want to be on-the-bus and in-the-movie of the Pranksters.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • CHUCK MARSHALL
  • ANN ARBOR, MI
  • 2019-05-31

Outstanding Performance!!

The book that brings the psychedelic hippy age into day-glo clarity. While the book is a classic and captures the essence of the Kesey acid tests, what makes it is the reading by Luke Daniels. His reading makes you FEEL the book. You are tripping as he reads it. Excellent!

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • H. Linstead
  • Kalispell, MT USA
  • 2019-07-23

phenominal

This audiobook felt like I had someone who was there at the acid tests telling me all these stories from his own memories.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Josh Krause
  • 2019-05-25

Classic

Interesting view into the world and life of acid heads and the time they boomed.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Bryan Frain
  • MOUNT PLEASANT, SC
  • 2019-08-14

Disappointed

Struggled to finish. I remember this book being referenced many times as I grew up so I decided to give it a shot. I was very disappointed with the overall story. I feel this book was more hype than anything else.

24 of 32 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • nancy
  • Falmouth, Maine, United States
  • 2019-03-13

Have been waiting & waiting for this book

Too bad it took Toms death to bring back so many of his works to the open catalog. The interpretation took some getting used to but generally worked

6 of 8 people found this review helpful