Tom Wolfe’s Groundbreaking Work, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Gets Released as a Limited Collector’s Edition, with Each Copy Signed by the Author 

Taschen recent­ly released a col­lec­tor’s edi­tion of The Elec­tric Kool-Aid Acid Test to com­mem­o­rate the 50th anniver­sary of Tom Wolfe’s rol­lick­ing account of Ken Kesey and the Mer­ry Pranksters’ acid-fueled road trip across the Unit­ed States, aboard the psy­che­del­ic school bus known as “Fur­ther.” With the pass­ing of Tom Wolfe last week, the release of the col­lec­tor’s edi­tion takes on some added impor­tance.

When The Elec­tric Kool-Aid Acid Test first came out in 1968, Eliot Fre­mont-Smith wrote in The New York Times that “it is not sim­ply the best book on the hip­pies, it is the essen­tial book.” The book “is print­ed in black and white, but the words come through in crazy Day-Glo–fluorescent, psy­che­del­ic, at once ener­getic and epicene.”

The new Taschen edi­tion is some­thing dif­fer­ent. The abridged text is pub­lished in “tra­di­tion­al let­ter­press, with fac­sim­i­le repro­duc­tions of Wolfe’s man­u­script pages, as well as Ken Kesey’s jail­house jour­nals, hand­bills, and under­ground mag­a­zines of the peri­od.” “Inter­weav­ing the prose and ephemera are pho­to­graph­ic essays from Lawrence Schiller, whose cov­er­age of the acid scene for Life mag­a­zine helped inspire Wolfe to write his sto­ry, and Ted Streshin­sky, who accom­pa­nied Wolfe while report­ing for the New York Her­ald Tri­bune.” There are also pho­tographs by poet Allen Gins­berg.

In total, Taschen has pro­duced 1,968 signed copies of the col­lec­tor’s edi­tion, each signed by Tom Wolfe him­self. The cost is set at $350.

If you nev­er spent time with The Elec­tric Kool-Aid Acid Test and want to read a sim­ple paper­back edi­tion that costs less than $10, you can find a copy here.

Note: We belong to the Taschen affil­i­ate pro­gram. So if you get a copy of the col­lec­tor’s edi­tion, it ben­e­fits not just you and Taschen. It ben­e­fits Open Cul­ture too. So con­sid­er it win-win-win.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Tom Wolfe (RIP) Tell Studs Terkel All About Cus­tom-Car Cul­ture, the Sub­ject of His Sem­i­nal Piece of New Jour­nal­ism (1965)

The Acid Test Reels: Ken Kesey & The Grate­ful Dead’s Sound­track for the 1960s Famous LSD Par­ties

Ken Kesey’s First LSD Trip Ani­mat­ed

Aldous Hux­ley, Dying of Can­cer, Left This World Trip­ping on LSD (1963)

Ken Kesey Talks About the Mean­ing of the Acid Tests

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.