The title--and the cover--of this book made me think that GENIUS AND HEROIN was going to be an in-depth analysis of famous, brilliant heroin (and other drug) users throughout history that researched some of the links between brilliance and mental illness. On this note, the book is highly misleading.
Yes, GENIUS AND HEROIN does feature famous people who died of drug overdose who also happened to be brilliant... and yet, it also features people who died of heart attacks, in car accidents, or even by suicide or murder. The people featured in this morbid encyclopedia range in profession to regent, writer, and obscure silent film star.
Part of the problem with GENIUS AND HEROIN is that it is packaged as something it is not. The misleading title is one thing; but it extends to the content, too. The illustrations often have nothing (or little) to do with the text they're placed alongside. The quotes are anachronistic and sometimes irrelevant, as well -- for example, you might find a quote from Voltaire in Ivan the Terrible's passage, or Christopher Morley in Diogene's (in fact, that's exactly what happens).
Each famous person ("genius," I guess) has 1-2 pages (often less) outlining what they were known for and how they died. It gets very tedious after a while. I suppose this is one of those books that isn't meant to be read in an entire sitting, but I don't have a lot of time to read anymore, and when I read a book, I want something that I can devour greedily, not choke on with only tons of effort.
How serious are these problems? If this were an article written by a prestigious newsgroup, people would be accusing them of resorting to click-bait, and questioning whether they have moved out of their golden age and into a slow decline.
1 out of 5 stars.