Cocaine, a substance of notoriety today, is certainly no new drug or menace on the global scene. From 1860, when first synthesized in a German lab from dried Peruvian coca leaf, to around the turn of the century, openly legal and legitimate cocaine stirred a massive boom among scientists and medical men, consumers and enthusiasts of many ilks, and international traders and manufacturers, including some of the world's leading pharmaceutical firms. Yet almost as rapidly, from 1900 to the 1920s, this early medical and commercial fascination with cocaine collapsed, its prestige replaced step by step until the 1960s by the global prohibitionist regimes and underground cocaine circuits that we know too well today. Indeed, it can be argued that cocaine's first rise and fall in the West as a "heroic" and "modern" drug was a prelude to its construction and current status as a dangerous and pariah one. Yet that birth of cocaine, as we know it, remains its hidden history.