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To Live Outside the Law: Caught by Operation Julie, Britain's Biggest Drugs Bust [Paperback]

Leaf Fielding
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 July 2012
'Listen, Leaf,' Pritchard said, 'the hash is neither here nor there. You're in a lot more trouble than possession of a bit of dope. You've got big problems, man... big problems.' He looked at me with something akin to sympathy. 'How did you get into such a fix?'I'd been asking myself the same question.Operation Julie in 1977 remains Britain's biggest ever drugs bust. The work of eleven police forces, it resulted in the break-up of one of the largest LSD co-operatives in the world, the arrest of 120 people and, according to reports, the seizure of six million trips' worth of LSD crystal, valued at £100 million. Overnight, the price of a tab went from £1 to £5.This is the first insider account of how it felt to be caught up in - and by - Operation Julie.

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To Live Outside the Law: Caught by Operation Julie, Britain's Biggest Drugs Bust + Operation Julie: The World's Greatest LSD Bust
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (5 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687977
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687976
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'This book is f***ing good' (Howard Marks) 'Dramatic... A compelling read' (Independent on Sunday) 'Barely a page I couldn't imagine vividly, as if this were a movie' (William Leith, Observer)"

Book Description

The story of Britain's biggest ever drugs bust

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ... you must be honest 18 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
... not a lot I can add to the 5* review here! Although I'm deducting a star because the publishers have been too mean to include any photographs or an index.

I've always been interested in the Operation Julie story, having known a couple of the people involved, & the '70s LSD scene in general. It's good to read an account of what happened that isn't written from the point of view of describing a triumphant & faultless investigation which saved society from being swept away by a psychedelic tsunami (as in Dick Lee's book). It wasn't quite like that, as this book shows. It certainly makes one wonder what would happen if the authorities were to approach the apparently invincible heroin & cocaine trades with the same vigour & resources as were devoted to the hippies & idealists of the Julie bust.

It's a very well-written book too. Leaf Fielding is very good at describing people & places, & I certainly found the book "un-put-down-able." I picked it up to have a flick through & was soon totally immersed in his description of a 1950's childhood & upbringing which were totally recognisable to me. Similarly, the sections describing his teenage wanderings around Europe, & the adventures he fell into with the folk he met along the way will be very evocative to anyone who's followed that trail. In the same way, the prison descriptions are very straightforward & honest, without any self-pity or sensationalism. In the end I barely put the book down until I'd finished it some 24 hours later.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Yarn 6 July 2011
This memoir tells the amazing story of a young man scarred and toughened by his childhood experiences of boarding school and harsh family circumstances who discovers unshackled life through LSD. The author starts turning on everyone he can to the light he has seen, travels the world, starts a successful whole food business and plays a vital role in what was possibly the world's largest recreational LSD manufacturer. Arrested in a massive and, at the time, world famous police crackdown known as Operation Julie, Leaf Fielding is returned to institutionalised life where he not only survives but learns how to kick ass.

The book is very well crafted and grabs the reader from the first page. The author switches back and forth between events after his arrest and his life leading up to that point. This device creates the tension and anticipation which makes it a racy page-turner.

On the other hand the book is laced with sparkling phrases and tellingly original ways of stating things which gives it a literary quality rarely found in works of this genre. Three examples that struck me as I read them and have stuck in my mind the way good movie dialogue lingers on long after watching a film: "my tongue was as big as my mouth and too big for its boots.", "I took off before the plane did." and "Not a murderer, just a leaf-mould thief."

Though the time switching is fairly linear for the most part, Fielding shows his command of the technique when he slowly reveals the details of a tragic incident involving his mother. We know something happened and see the impact this has had on the young boy and only then do we learn about the full horror of the event.

The author does a very good job of describing the effects of LSD.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Seven Ages of an Acid Idealist 30 Aug 2011
This is a book of many facets: part personal memoir of the '60s-'70s psychedelic scene, part `true crime'-style insider account of the Operation Julie escapade, subsequent bust and jail time, and also a larger meditation on the cultural and spiritual impact on humanity of that most potent and exotic of illegal substances--LSD.

It is tightly and economically written, telling us enough but without going into burgeoning detail, so that a large swathe of time is covered efficiently in its near 300 pages. The structure takes the time-honoured form of two interwoven strands, the first starting with the Julie bust and continuing on through the legal proceeding and imprisonment, and the second dealing with Leaf's past life up to the bust. It works very well, with the unrelenting downbeat dourness of the former strand contrasting strikingly with the colour of the latter; and the two synergise together beautifully to answer the book's central question, poised on its cover: How did I get into this mess?

The answer is complicated, but the honest and candid writing, coupled with the willingness to reveal intimate details, build into a lucid and fascinating portrait of a talented individual whose youthful waywardness and `rebellion' ultimately stretched too far for his own good. The roots, as ever, lie in childhood, and Leaf's, though middle class and not `deprived' in the usual sense, had huge shortcomings. From the age of seven onwards, with an army officer father often serving overseas and no mother, Leaf had virtually no proper family life and was subject to the institutionalised sadism of boarding school, where he didn't fit in.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A sweet and lovely book.
This is a sweet and lovely book, well written in economical prose with minimal embroidery. It is also surprisingly subtle. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Peter King
5.0 out of 5 stars Leaf's story
Leaf's story is fascinating, nice to hear the story told from the "good guys" side for a change. Read more
Published 11 months ago by ian crickmer
5.0 out of 5 stars great reading
An excellent story, very well told. A very enjoyable read, from some of the technical detail of mass production, to his adventures whilst traveling.
Published 14 months ago by richard jenkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Written with evident enjoyment and enjoyable to read. Something of a 'grasshopper' approach: the leaps in the narrative held the interest, though.
Published 14 months ago by Mrs. P. Long
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring ...
Starts off promisingly enough, but the style - two interleaved stories - gets boring after a while. Howard Marks it isn't. Read more
Published 15 months ago by kh1234567890
5.0 out of 5 stars Acid went everywhere...
This is a riveting and entertaining account of Operation Julie from an insider's perspective, fascinating enough just for that, but it's also much more. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Bill B
5.0 out of 5 stars the story of leafs' trip 1950's to 80's
It Was really nice to be able to read a book in the mainstream media from one of the uk acid counter culture generation of the 60's , i guess most of them are living happily under... Read more
Published 24 months ago by dave c
3.0 out of 5 stars About 20 years late.
A memoir by Leaf Fielding, an LSD dealer who was arrested and imprisoned during 1977's Operation Julie hippy-hunt, which is really more of an autobiography rather than about OJ... Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2012 by A. Miles
5.0 out of 5 stars Eceptionally well-written and original
From the brutally real account of his arrest in Wales, his heart-wrenching recollection of the premature loss his Mother, his first life-changing encounter with LSD and adventures... Read more
Published on 14 Feb 2012 by cookie monster
This extraordinary book is compulsive reading. Through the horrors of English public school, bizarre adventures on the road, fascinating detail about the making of LSD and its... Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2012 by Hard Working Woman
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