Dopeworld: Adventures in the Global Drug Trade

Niko Vorobyov. St. Martin’s, $29.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-250-27001-6
At the start of this terrific debut, former drug dealer Vorobyov writes of the London prison where he served time in 2013–2014 for possession with intent to supply, “With its uninspired menu, rude staff, slow room service and guests unable to leave their rooms twenty-three hours a day, suffice it to say that this place wouldn’t get a good rating on TripAdvisor.” That same wit marks his account of his misspent youth in England as the son of Russian émigrés, and his post-prison travels around the world meeting with those involved in the illegal drug trade and those trying to combat it. Along the way, Vorobyov provides much fascinating history, from the ancient Incas’ use of coca to late-20th-century America’s war on drugs, which he argues originated largely as a way to criminalize black Americans following the civil rights movement. He ends on a hopeful note, citing the socialist government of Portugal’s decision in 2001 to decriminalize all drugs, which led to a drastic drop in the number of addicts, overdoses, and new HIV cases. Vorobyov makes a persuasive case for the legalization of drugs in what he aptly calls “a true crime, gonzo, social, historical-memoir meets fucked-up travel book.” It could well become a classic. Agents: John Ash and Patrick Walsh, PEW Literary (U.K.). (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/09/2020
Release date: 08/18/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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