Bradley Winterton, contributing reporter for the Taipei Times, reviews Thai Stick and has this to say about the book, the history, and the authors:

It’s an amazing book to come from Columbia University Press, and they apparently had doubts as to its suitability to their list. But it manages to combine academic respectability (it has 40 pages of notes and bibliography) with a breezy colloquial accessibility. It has some of the authenticity of Richard Neville’s Play Power (an early account from 1970) and Jay Stevens’ Storming Heaven (a modest overview dating from 1987).

This book follows the fortunes of Californian surfers turned drug-traffickers. There are tales of long-haired, suntanned young men traveling round the world first-class, tipping generously, and making their way to lavish houses on Bali’s Kuta Beach. Yet a former agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), extensively interviewed for this book, says that he was in a way impressed by their ethos. They were people who would never, ever pull a gun on you, he says.

Thai Stick, with its insider knowledge and careful, extensive research, certainly contributes to our understanding of a past era. If it’s generally sympathetic to the men whose exploits it describes (women were less often involved), this was perhaps part and parcel of researching the story in the first place. That it also manages to be a rattling good yarn is merely an additional asset. Columbia University Press is to be congratulated on their courage in publishing what seems to be a pioneering account, and for taking the long historical view of a billion-dollar business, albeit an illegal one, that was effectively conducted by amateurs.

Read the full review here: Book review: Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers, and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade – Taipei Times.