Meth Wars

Police, Media, Power

304 pages

16 b/w figures

December, 2016

ISBN: 9781479800025



Add to Cart Available: 11/4/2016

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Travis Linnemann is Assistant Professor of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. 

All books by Travis Linnemann

How the War on Drugs is maintained through racism,authority and public opinion. 
From the hit television series Breaking Bad, to daily news reports, anti-drug advertising campaigns and  highly publicized world-wide hunts for “narcoterrorists” such as Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the drug, methamphetamine occupies a unique and important space in the public’s imagination.  In Meth Wars, Travis Linnemann situates the "meth epidemic" within the broader culture and politics of drug control and mass incarceration.

Linnemann draws together a range of examples and critical interdisciplinary scholarship to show how methamphetamine, and the drug war more generally, are part of a larger governing strategy that animates the politics of fear and insecurity and links seemingly unrelated concerns such as environmental dangers, the politics of immigration and national security, policing tactics, and terrorism.  The author’s unique analysis presents a compelling case for how the supposed “meth epidemic” allows politicians, small town police and government counter-narcotics agents to engage in a singular policing project in service to the broader economic and geostrategic interests of the United States.


  • "Contributing to scholarly debates about the political and cultural intersections of drugs, rurality, and whiteness, Meth Wars shows how meth impacts not just individuals and institutions but also imaginations. Ultimately, this is a book about challenging the reader to think beyond the widespread justifications for sustaining the war on drugs and the popularized arguments for ending it. Questioning both leftwing and rightwing sensibilities on drugs, Linnemann provokes the reader into imagining a different world—one beyond the meth imaginary."

    —Jennifer Carlson, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Arizona

  • "Linnemann’s book is a key text for understanding how moral panics about an infernal substance, and its diabolical seller, both stem from and further entrench the manifold contradictions of late capitalist society."


  • “A cultural criminological tour de force, Travis Linnemann’s Meth Wars constitutes a brilliant counterpoint to everyday assumptions about drugs, crime, and policing. Moving from television dramas to public service announcements, from small town policing in rural America to global narcopolitics, Linnemann unpacks an insidious methamphetamine imaginary that has come to saturate contemporary social life. In doing so he reveals a deeper secret: if there is indeed a meth epidemic, it is one of epistemic proportions.”

    —Jeff Ferrell, author of Empire of Scrounge

  • "Meth Wars interrupts official discourse on drug use in America, drawing out the relationship between methamphetamine and the politics of fear. Linnemann invites us into the methamphetamine imaginary, deftly detailing how racism, the drug war and capitalism are manifested and maintained through pop culture, policing and state power. A compelling resource on a critical subject."

    —Dawn Paley, author of Drug War Capitalism

  • "A scholarly page-turner, Meth Wars takes us on a journey through the cultural imaginary surrounding drug crime, policing, and punishment in the most thorough and illuminating way to date. Poetic, critical, and rigorous, Travis Linnemann frames how we 'see' meth – and how our views lead others to 'see' meth as well – through the power of misplaced drug war rhetoric. This study of whiteness, class, and privilege in drug imagery and drug wars is a profound contribution."

    —Michelle Brown, author of The Culture of Punishment