The Most Dangerous Man in America

Timothy Leary, Richard Nixon and the Hunt for the Fugitive King of LSD

From Bill Minutaglio and Steve Davis, authors of the PEN prize-winning Dallas 1963, THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA is the madcap, trippy narrative about Timothy Leary’s daring prison escape and delirious fugitive run from the forces of a paranoid President Nixon waging war against America’s counterculture.

On the moonlit evening of September 12, 1970, an ex-Harvard professor with a genius I.Q. studies a twelve-foot high fence topped with barbed wire. A few months earlier, Dr. Timothy Leary, the High Priest of LSD who’d advised young people to “Turn on, tune in, drop out” had been running a gleeful campaign for California governor against Ronald Reagan. Leary’s friend John Lennon had even written him a campaign song, recorded by the Beatles as “Come Together.” Now Leary is six months into a ten-year prison sentence for the crime of possessing two marijuana cigarettes.

Outside the prison, America is in turmoil. Antiwar demonstrators are massing by the tens of thousands, homemade bombs are exploding everywhere, and Black Panther leaders are threatening to burn down the White House. Inside the Oval Office, President Richard Nixon is veering into uncharted waters, drinking his way through sleepless nights as he widens the war in Vietnam and plots to unleash the United States government against his ever-expanding list of domestic enemies.

Leary’s escape from prison, aided by the radical Weather Underground, is the counterculture’s union of “dope and dynamite,”aimed at sparking a revolution and overthrowing Nixon’s government. The President brands the fugitive Leary as “the most dangerous man in America.”

For the next twenty-eight months, Nixon orchestrates a madly careening, global manhunt — a chase that winds its way among homegrown revolutionaries, European aristocrats, rock stars, a Black Panther outpost in socialist Algeria, an army of FBI and CIA agents working both sides of the law, Watergate co-conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, an international arms dealer, hash-smuggling hippies from the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, and secret agents on four continents. Deeply researched from freshly uncovered primary sources and new firsthand interviews, The Most Dangerous Man in America reads like a gonzo, drug-addled modern American thriller.


"A pitch-perfect, exhilarating work about one of the strangest chapters in the American experience, one so exciting that even the postscript rivets… A stroke of narrative genius . . . Absolutely unforgettable"


Booklist (starred review)


“A riveting international chase between a tenacious but paranoid cat and a wily but delusional mouse… Minutaglio and Davis are superb storytellers . . . expertly detailed and blessedly fat-free”


Kirkus (starred review)



"Our intrepid authors, pounding the present tense like the brake pedal on a runaway 18-wheeler, narrate a story more wild, inventive, and sex-drenched than a Dennis Hopper movie."


― Glenn Frankel, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic

"A vivid, eye-opening alternate view of an especially bizarre period of American history...Far too strange to be fiction, the book brilliantly details an American tragedy of two men, each of whom considered the other to be the most dangerous man in America."


― James Fadiman, PhD., microdose researcher and author of The Psychedelic Explorers' Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys

"The Most Dangerous Man in America is a wild ride across time, space, and multiple cosmic planes during an era when America came close to losing--or finding?--its mind. Leary and Nixon: such a perfectly, surreally antithetical pair. Crack open this book and prepare to have your mind blown by the reality of this very strange tale."


— Ben Fountain, PEN/Hemingway and O. Henry prize-winning author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories.

"PEN Award-winning authors . . .create an engaging narrative "


Library Journal