Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue: A Summary

Thanks to all who have contributed to the discussion on Eugen Richards’ ‘Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue’. We have compiled an archive of the posts below for future reference and will also be listed under the reading list page.

In June we will be looking at Larry Sultan’s ‘The Valley’

Eugene Richards: Books

We are coming to then end of May and ‘Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue’ by Eugene Richards, i know many have been in touch for recommendations of other books by Richards to check out. So here is a comprehensive list for you to enjoy.

Where possible, Amazon links have been provided


Synopsis: Eugene Richards – Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue

Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue

Eugene Richards

Aperture, 1994 (Hardback)
Aperture, 1994 (Paperback)


Writing in the afterword to ʻCocaine True, Cocaine Blue,ʼ Dr. Stephen W. Nicholas writes,
ʻThe United States accounts for five percent of the worldʼs population and consumes 50
percent of the worldʼs cocaine,ʼ with approximately one million American teenagers and
young adults using cocaine for the first time each year, and the rate of cocaine-associated
physical, sociological, or family-related problems doubling nationwide since 1985.

In this powerful and raw book, Eugene Richards takes an in-depth and very intimate look
at the inhabitants of three troubled communities: East New York; North Philadelphia; and
the Red Hook Housing Project in Brooklyn, New York.

Alongside the bold and often graphic black-and-white images, are Richardsʼ own personal
observations and interviews, with additional comment by journalist Edward Barnes. These
interviews, with gang members, addicts, dealers, parents, children, the elderly, sex
workers, police, and the clergy. In one such observation Richards writes, ʻThere were 107
murders, 145 rapes, 3,285 robberies, and 547 felonious assaults in East New York in one
year, in a population of 160,000… This is how we first learn about Americaʼs troubled inner-
city neighborhoods, reading the most elemental and squalid statistics, the lists of atrocities
and casualties, the body counts that are no different from those posted during war.ʼ

In ʻCocaine True, Cocaine Blueʼ Richardsʼ offers a powerful insight, and alerts us to how
drugs can affect the very fabric of our society.

– Wayne Ford