Hello! Here you'll find comments on the afterlife of Timothy Leary - his impact on our culture and his portrayal in the media. Consider this a continuation of the biography 'I Have America Surrounded - The Life of Timothy Leary', by John Higgs with a foreword by Winona Ryder.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Leary Biographer Dies

No, not this one, I'm still around and waltzing. I'm referring to John Bryan, who died on Feb 1st, aged 72.

Bryan published Whatever Happened to Timothy Leary? in 1980, and it remained the only full Leary biography for 26 years. It is not, unfortunately, an easy book to find. Bryan's editor at Harcourt books died just before the book was finished, and his successor had no interest in the manuscript. Bryan published it himself and sold it through the underground and outside Tim's lectures. I personally spent months searching eBay etc trying to find a copy, but with no luck. The copy I now have fell apart during the writing of my book, and exists only as a loose collection of pages.

Bryan was a true counter-culture figure, and the book portrays Leary in the confused, contradictory and often judgmental light in which he was perceived by the American counter culture in the late seventies - people who loved Tim in 1967 but who were increasingly uncomfortable with the directions he took during the seventies. I've been told Tim hated it, and to my mind a number of sections in his 1983 autobiography seem written to deliberately correct or contradict it (which is not to imply that Flashbacks is the more accurate book!) But it's a very important book precisely because it is a genuine report back from those times. Bryan interviewed many people who are no longer around and he reproduced their comments at length, and the book really shines when he gives first hand accounts of events at which he was present (the press conference of People Against Leary's Lies springs to mind here.)

There is much in the book that would have been lost in time if Bryan had not recorded it. It's also a fun read, rich in period language and playfully written. Here's hoping that whoever owns the rights to it makes it available again - even if only through a print-on-demand press, such as Lulu.com.

For more on Bryan and his many other achievements, see:


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Blogger LJ said...

This is a very late comment but I have only just found this blog, despite being very interested in "I Have America Surrounded".

I'd like to see that book. I had uncharitable thoughts about Robert Greenfield when I read the title!!

9:55 PM


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