In the 1960s, a group of psychedelic-loving misfits from Orange County called the Brotherhood of Eternal Love figured it could turn the entire world on to the mystical power of LSD.
It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time — the brotherhood had been founded on a shared belief in LSD’s transformative effects. But somewhere along the line, the spiritual message was squashed by thousands of kilos of smuggled marijuana and hashish.
By decade’s end, the psychedelic messengers had sidetracked into a smuggling operation that made the group one of the largest drug cartels in America.
Instead of enlightenment, the members of the brotherhood wound up making their mark as narcotics trailblazers: They distributed Orange Sunshine, arguably the most popular “brand” of LSD in history; created the strain of pot known as Maui Wowie; and were the first to bring Afghan hash to the U.S.
For a while, they were America’s foremost counterculture outlaws, dubbed the “hippie mafia” by Rolling Stone. But the organization ultimately fell prey to greed, back-stabbing and legal heat. And when it was gone, it barely registered an acid flashback, even after biographers, documentarians and Madison Avenue began to strip mine the hippie era for material.
Yet in “Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World,” Nicholas Schou manages — amazingly — to penetrate four decades of silence.