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The Last Pirate: A Father, His Son, and the…

The Last Pirate: A Father, His Son, and the Golden Age of Marijuana

by Tony Dokoupil

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This is a good, but not great book. The part that stuck with me was the flip side of the con. The movies, TV and media would have you believe in the glam and glitz of the smuggler. However the people at the heart of the business are not the happy go lucky Robin Hood types who are righteous in their aims to sell a harmless plant and advance the consciousness of the world. The reality of the situation is much different. This book is mostly a memoir about a boy and his father and the boy's search for an understanding about why his father caused such destruction in his life. The book holds your attention and is well written. ( )
  ktp50 | Aug 8, 2014 |
This memoir of “a father, his son, and the golden age of marijuana” promised to be interesting, and it was to an extent. I was completely unaware of Tony Dokoupil, the big-time dope dealer, until I heard of this book. Apparently, lots of stoners were eventually recipients of their share of the tons of weed this dealer was responsible for getting to the country.

To me, the family dynamics of the book was the most interesting part. Multiple generations of abusive fathers raising sons who in turn became abusive, until the author made a conscious decision to break the chain.

Many of the dealers lived by a romanticized “pirate code,” and some ultimately broke that code. The dealer who felt above the fray because he dealt in pot rather than the harder drugs could not resist those harder drugs. He set himself up perfectly for self-destruction. Did he ultimately self-destruct? I'm not telling, but the book will.

The author did tend to over-romanticize much of the story. Sure, parts of it were gritty, but the whole noble undertaking slant got a little old. Some of the writing dragged a bit, and there were a few too many similes, but some of the writing made me smile.

“It helped that he was good-looking, too, with a wide, eager face like a Labrador. In the months to come, she'd realize he also had a Lab's tendency to run off and return sparkly eyes and dirty, radiating love-me-anyway charm.”

About a family member, he writes,

“Once you point a gun at your family, you can lower the barrel, wrap the weapon in blankets, and throw it in the swamp, but you can never get rid of it. The gun is pointed forever.”

The story is interesting, the book is good but not great, and I am glad that I read it, just wish it had managed to be a little less wordy in its telling.

I was given an advance copy for review. The quotes may have changed in the published edition. ( )
  TooBusyReading | May 22, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385533462, Hardcover)

In the tradition of Blow and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Tony Dokoupil's vivid memoir recounts the life of his father, Big Tony: the undisputed, multi-millionaire king of the 1980's Miami marijuana trade . . . until it all went spectacularly up in smoke.

For NBC News Senior Writer Tony Dokoupil, growing up in the technicolor fantasy land of 1980's Miami was a dream. He attended the prestigious Gulliver Prep with Bush family members and spent weekends yachting in crystal blue waters off the Miami Keys. A typical day would see his mom head off to Jazzercise decked out in feathered earrings and silver spandex while his father drank daiquiris on the lanai and cruised around in sports cars that were eventually leant to the production crews of Miami Vice. They lived a life of excess and privilege; all built on the springy, sticky, spongy foundation of Columbia's finest.

Yet beneath the glitzy surface lay a dark world of midnight drug smuggles, week-long heroin binges, domestic violence, prostitution, turncoat informants and the increasing pressure of Reagan's War on Drugs. What began as a peace-filled gentleman's trade populated by bleachy-haired Jimmy Buffet pirates soon turned into a violent international business fueled by greed, and Big Tony's empire crashed and burned.

An excellent blend of reportage, a cultural snapshot of 80's Miami, and a deeply personal memoir, Tony Dokoupil's dramatic book presents a layered portrait of a complicated man, while detailing his determination to replant the Dokoupil family tree after it has taken one hit too many.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:44 -0400)

"NBC News"senior writer Dokoupil offers a gripping examination of his longtime marijuana-dealing father, as well as a researched look at the evolution of American narcotics laws. In the early 1970s, Dokoupil's father, also named Tony, dropped out of graduate school to deal marijuana. Dokoupil recounts how the smuggling and distribution business ran and contextualizes it within the Great Stoned Age. Partly the history of a generation, yet very much a family story, the tale darkens dramatically with the father's precipitous, if inevitable, decline and fall.… (more)

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