2280 Bethany Road
DeKalb, IL 60115
Model Airplanes are Decadent and Depraved
The Glue-Sniffing Epidemic of the 1960s
“The historical examination is powerful, engaging, and covers all relevant issues. The study is significant because it adds to and enriches our knowledge about this particular practice of using psychoactive substances and how social policies regarding this practice were debated, formed, and applied. The scholarship is very sound and the author’s command and usage of sources is certainly appropriate.”—Nachman Ben-Yehuda, coauthor of Moral Panics: The Social Construction of Deviance
Model Airplanes are Decadent and Depraved tells the story of the American glue-sniffing epidemic of the 1960s, from the first reports of use to the unsuccessful crusade for federal legislation in the early 1970s. The human obsession with inhalation for intoxication has deep roots, from the oracle at Delphi to Judaic biblical ritual. The discovery of nitrous oxide, ether, and chloroform in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and the later development of paint thinners, varnishes, lighter fluid, polishes, and dry-cleaning supplies provided a variety of publicly available products with organic solvents that could be inhaled for some range of hallucinogenic or intoxicating effect. Model airplane glue was one of those products, but did not appear in warnings until the first reports of problematic behavior appeared in 1959, when children in several western cities were arrested for delinquency after huffing glue. Newspaper coverage both provided the initial shot across the bow for research into the subject and convinced children to give it a try. This “epidemic” quickly spread throughout the nation and the world.
June 2015 260 pp., 15 illus., 6x9
Thomas Aiello is associate professor of history at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Georgia. He has published several books, including Dan Burley’s Jive (NIU Press, 2009).
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