MR NICE An Autobiography by Howard Marks
Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd 1966
ISBN 0 436 20305 7
16.99 pounds sterling

The book starts and ends with scenes from the Gulag Archepelogo, 1990s style. The author had been imprisoned for smuggling hashish from Asia to America. But is hashish dealing merely a form of exploitation, or is it more a reflection of consumer tastes in advanced societies ?

Although drug dealers appear to be marginalized in conventional society the the large profits make them pillars of the community. The high risk investments generate such high returns that few business people can ignore the possibilities for a quick profit. Money laundering statistics are regularly underplayed by governments who fear to offend the banking community. Howard Mark's China Travel company was graced by tycoons and diplomats when it was opening new offices.

Marks became acquainted with hashish while studying his physics degree at Balliol College, Oxford. He also participated in dramatic events, and ran the college May Ball Committee in his second year. He went on to complete his Bsc, and then a post graduate degree, without too much trouble. His media connections were to serve well as a foundation to future business.

Shortly after the Northern Ireland troubles took the headlines Howard was able to team up with an Irish smuggler who knew people at Shannon International Airport. He was one of a number of people who got rich from this government created special economic zone: others were high technology smugglers, shipping computers to the Soviet Union, and Guinness Pete Aviation, once the World's largest airplane leasors.

As Howard became more proficient at organising the smuggling of hashish he started to be able to trade in knowledge of the transport industry: the knowledge of who can be paid off, and the correct time and place.

The book takes the reader through the circles of high finance, luxury hotels, Thai massage parlours and the corrupt aristocracy of the United Kingdom. The temporary closure of the Superstar Disco in Patpong during 1988 was perhaps one of the ripples created by the DEA operation against Marks and his associates.

The work of hashish importers such as Marks is often under estimated. The profits from heroin, or even diverted ethical drugs, may be easier and sometimes safer, Marks preferred to set up hashish deals, even to final quality checks.

The book is highly recommended for anyone who wishes to understand the place of Britain in the global economy of today.

Howard Marks Own Web Page
UKCIA link to Howard Marks
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