Students of U.S. drug policy will mourn the passing of Professor David Musto, perhaps the greatest historian of the field. The American Disease is the best-known of his books and is justifiably called a classic. An even greater delight for drug history buffs is The Quest for Drug Control, co-authored by Pamela Korsmeyer. The latter has a CD full of internal White House memos and other policy documents that is a joy to explore. When I met Noel Koch last year and he described his work for President Nixon on drug policy, it was fun to go back to my office, pull a memo he wrote over 35 years ago from the CD (The disc has a nice search feature) and then circulate it to him and a group of old Nixon hands around town.
David had an office inside Yale’s majestic, wood-paneled, portrait-strewn, medical uber-library. He looked as comfortable there as most of us would in our living room. During my very first academic job interview, at Yale Psychiatry Department, I asked for and received the gift of an interview with David. I believe we were supposed to talk about addiction but spent nearly the entire time discussing Sherlock Holmes. He fulfilled the dream of many an irregular by getting the Journal of the American Medical Association (!) to publish a case study of Holmes’ cocaine use, which showed he had chutzpah as well as intellect.