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Humboldt: Life on America's Marijuana Frontier Hardcover – June 18, 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"In a rare journalistic feat, Emily Brady burrowed deep inside an infamous subculture and emerged with a luminous but haunting dispatch about a secretive community of outlaw pot growers--some of whom would rather risk their lives than see their profits crushed by the decriminalization of cannabis. Brady's brave reporting pulls no punches yet makes no judgments as she chronicles four people torn by their allegiances to a place that represents the beauty and ruthlessness of the modern American frontier-and the hypocrisy of the country's drug policy. Humboldt is a triumph of immersion reporting: vivid, compassionate, maddening and unforgettable."
--Jonathan Schuppe, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of A Chance to Win

"Emily Brady escorts you into the redwood-studded mountains of northern California where a secretive marijuana culture thrives-for now-outside the law. Deeply reported and populated with vibrant characters spanning generations, Humboldt documents the real lives behind America's favorite high. A fascinating and timely read."
--David Kinney, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of The Big One

"Emily Brady has written a terrifically gripping book about America's confused relationship with marijuana. A tour-de-force of investigative journalism, Brady takes us inside the world of pot growers in God's own country, and illuminates the policy issues around legalization in a series of beautifully rendered character portraits." --Suketu Mehta, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist MAXIMUM CITY: Bombay Lost and Found

"In her vivid, hypnotic HUMBOLDT, Emily Brady brings the notoriously secretive pot-growing community of Northern California to life through the lives of four very different Humboldters, whose nuanced stories form together like wisps of smoke." -Julian Rubinstein, author of the international bestseller Ballad of the Whiskey Robber

"Emily Brady has written a masterful opus dopus-to borrow a phrase from her book-chronicling the dreams and struggles of a community that has become infamous worldwide for their controversial cash crop. In Humboldt, she takes a clear-eyed look at the marijuana industry: its growers, trimmers, dealers, and family-run businesses. Readers will come away with a newfound and nuanced understanding of pot, but this is really a book about people whose outrageous, funny, and heartbreaking stories you won't soon forget."
--Brooke Hauser, author of THE NEW KIDS: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens

"In her book Humboldt, Emily Brady takes us on a rowdy off-road trip into the homeland of marijuana moonshining, where pit bulls guard the fields, cash fills up holes in the ground, and it's a bad idea to ask anyone you encounter what they do for a living."
--Bruce Porter, New York Times bestselling author of Blow

About the Author

Emily Brady was born and raised in Northern California. A graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism, she has written for the New York Times, Time, the Village Voice and other publications. She has reported from Latin America, Europe, Asia and New York City and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (June 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455506761
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455506767
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #488,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Emily Brady has done what no outside writer to date has been able to accomplish in her compelling narrative of the secretive culture of marijuana growing that began in a remote part of Northern California--she has been able to gain the trust of people on both sides of the law, so that readers can examine for themselves where this industry came from and where it stands today on the cusp of significant changes to the laws that criminalized a plant and created a costly prohibition that scholars, politicians and a growing number of citizens admit has failed even more spectacularly than the 1920 to 1933 prohibition on alcohol in the United States.

The geographical setting of this story is one of the most scenic patches of California's rural Northwestern corner, a landscape so rugged that the coastal highway builders saw it as impassible, avoided it and settled for routing highway 101 through the narrow twisting South Fork of the Eel River canyon to connect San Francisco to the state's northernmost cities of Eureka and Arcata, before winding it's way up the coast to the Oregon border. This is the lush landscape made green by the world's tallest Redwood trees and an equally powerful, though much shorter non-native plant that goes by many names: Marijuana, Cannabis, Pot, Ganja, Hemp, Reefer, Mary-Jane, Weed and a plethora of names for the many cultivars produced by the clandestine farmers who populate the area famously known as The Emerald Triangle.

Through the detailed portraits of the book's four main subjects and supported by many lesser characters, the Drug War's stereotype of the pot grower is unraveled.
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Format: Hardcover
Bought my copy at COSTCO in Eureka. Very good book. May be less relevant to those not living in this part of the country. I could hardly put it down and read right through it. Hard to imagine the author gathering the information for the book. She must be a very interesting woman to generate the trust needed for the interviews with the characters.

Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
Emily Brady brings her narrative, fluid style to this compelling exploration of the "emerald triangle" community many people are curious about. For people seeking a political lightning rod or something to back up their particular standpoint on the legalization issue, that's not what you'll find. You'll find instead four complex and interesting people living their lives in a world that happens to center around marijuana. Thanks to Brady's incisive reporting and her prose, the book will end too soon!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Emily Brady has written a highly readable book with an agenda, marijuana being the star. Ms. Brady is a journalist and, taking a page from sociological/anthropological field studies, becomes "part of" the community in Humboldt county, California where she conducted her field studies for approximately a year. She profiles several residents: a sheriff's deputy and longtime resident, a woman in her 60's who has supplemented her income as an art teacher for decades with marijuana cultivation, a twenty something former resident and current grad student who grew up in Humboldt County with a mother whose major source of income for her family of four was marijuana, plus a hired "gun" and cultivator who works for a Bay Area grower in exchange for a cut of the harvest-time profit.

Bottom line: illegal marijuana grows have been a staple of the Emerald Triangle (Trinity, Humboldt, and Mendocino counties) for decades after the decline of the logging industry and the rise of illegal but highly profitable American-grown marijuana. Currently, outdoor grows, forest service grows, and indoor/greenhouse hybrid grows are all options on the table, producing various levels of risk, profit/loss ratios, and environmental destruction. The book appears to argue that California's marijuana laws, in current violation of federal drug laws (allowing for possession under an ounce to be a misdemeanor and allowing for controlled medical usage/cultivation) has also allowed the rural illegal cultivation industry to continue to flourish, while increasing the risk of crime and violence, along with tax-free revenues for those who are canny and cagey enough to make it to harvest season.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book on a whim, having visited Humboldt County for a week on a "father/daughter" trip. While I had a sense that there was an undercurrent to the area that I didn't understand, I really had no idea what I was missing until reading this book.

The author, in telling the story of 4 main characters throughout the narrative, does a fantastic job of capturing the unseen underbelly of Humboldt from all sides. She does so in an engaging and well-written, easy-to-read manner. It is obvious, even before reading the "Author's Remarks" at the end of the book, that the she made a serious commitment to researching this book, and to gaining the trust of the four individuals that are central to this story. Her approach is one of even-handedness, relating all sides with very little prejudice. While it is apparent throughout that the book is slanted toward an opinion that cannabis should be legalized, the rationale presented along the way is sound and well-developed.

A pleasant and easy read for anyone who has visited the area, or is just curious about how Northern California became the epicenter for domestic cannabis production. Very well done, and my kudos to the author. One of the more thought-provoking books I've read in some time, given that up until a day or two ago, I have been generally on the "pot should continue to be illegal" side of the fence. After reading this book, I'm squarely on the fence, and perhaps tilting a bit towards agreeing with the author.
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