Altered States of America is a riveting collection of journalism by outlaw-turned-author Richard Stratton. Stratton's years as an international marijuana smuggler, his 8-year bid in a federal prison system, and subsequent ascendance to acclaimed author and filmmaker, give him the credibility with which to wrest an uncommon truth from his subjects. The stories in this collection read like adventure fiction. To name a few: the story of Greg Scarpa, a Columbo mob captain turned informant; Bonecrusher, a guard at Corcoran penitentiary who witnessed the bloody gladiator fights between convicts; the CIA's top-secret MK-ULTRA program in which the CIA secretly dosed unsuspecting civilians and its own agents with LSD, or the heartbreaking profile of Joe Stassi, America's oldest living gangster, who was ordered to murder his best friend. Each piece is linked by Stratton's reflections on and connections to the people and places he describes. Whether he is talking with Oliver Stone or a prison guard, Hunter S. Thompson or a gangster, Sean Penn or a CIA agent, Stratton has an empathetic understanding of his subjects. This collection truly embodies Bob Dylan's famous line: "To live outside the law, you must be honest."