"Mr. Nice: An Autobiography" by Howard Marks (1998)
"When I arrived back at the Newmarket-on-Fergus farmhouse, two university lecturers and their spouses were sitting in the darkened living-room staring with horrified expressions at a projection screen displaying a farmgirl having intercourse with a pig. Standing just offscreen was McCann. He had his dick out and was masturbating."
Howard Marks rose to prominence during the 70s and 80s as the U.K.'s most famous drug smuggler. Using a network of associates that stretched clear around the world, he made (and lost) millions smuggling hash into Europe and North America. He was eventually apprehended in Spain and later extradited to the United States, where he spent several years in prison.
All of which sounds like it would make for an interesting book, but Mr. Marks gets bogged down in the details. Instead of a riveting account of a man who spent decades dodging police and immigration officials in several countries, what we get in Mr. Nice is a tedious list of names, places, and dates. It amounts to a lot of trivia with very little context to make it meaningful, and by the end of this book I could only scratch my head as to what the author intended to say.
Perhaps, given his level of celebrity in the U.K., Mr. Marks was able to bypass the editorial process. This is a shame, because lost in all his details are compelling arguments against the illegality of certain drugs, against strong-arm tactics used by the DEA and other U.S. law enforcement agencies, and against the brutality of the U.S. prison system. If Mr. Marks could have just dialed down his personal aggrandizement a bit, he might have made an excellent case against the complex of laws and institutions that caused him so much difficulty. But he doesn't do that, and what we get instead is a rambling account of forays into Pakistan, encounters with Bangkok prostitutes, and brushes with more famous personages.
I wouldn't say that this is a bad book. More like a wasted opportunity. It gets much better near the end, but about 7/8 of this book is incredibly repetitious, and will make you regret having started it in the first place.