Located on the left bank of the Chao Phya River, Thailand's capital, Krungthep, known as Bangkok to Westerners and "the City of Angels" to Thais, has been home to smugglers and adventurers since the late eighteenth century. During the 1970s, it became a modern Casablanca to a new generation of treasure seekers, from surfers looking to finance their endless summers to wide-eyed hippie true believers and lethal marauders left over from the Vietnam War.
Moving a shipment of Thai sticks from northeast Thailand farms to American consumers meant navigating one of the most complex smuggling channels in the history of the drug trade. Many forget that until the mid-1970s, the vast majority of marijuana consumed in the United States was imported, and there was little to no domestic production.
Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter are the first historians to document this underground industry, the only record of its existence rooted in the fading memories of its elusive participants. Drawing on hundreds of interviews with smugglers and law enforcement agents, the authors recount the buy, delivery, voyage home, and product offload. They capture the eccentric personalities of the men and women who transformed the Thai marijuana trade from a GI cottage industry into a professionalized business moving the world's most lucrative commodities, unraveling a rare history from the smugglers' perspective.