... 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.
Anyone hoping for tantalising post-Julie gossip will be disappointed tho - another book I read recently made much of various hints about the possible whereabouts of ancient caches of acid & money, & who might be in the know - but throughout the book Leaf avoids speculation & simply talks about the actual parts he was involved in & knows about. He does however make some very good points - if he & his associates had made the millions of trips alleged by the prosecution, where were they? Same thing with the money - sure, finding a woodland stash of 100,000 microdots is a significant haul, but nowhere near the amounts that were invoked by the police, prosecution & subservient media. Or again as Leaf says, if LSD was such a dangerous & destructive substance, & he'd been involved in propagating it nation-wide, where was the wave of acid-casualties that should be swamping the health services as a result?
This is a much better book that I'd expected. It's a fascinating story, & Leaf Fielding shows an enormous amount of perception, honesty & awareness in his writing. There are times when his self-belief wavers, like when his marriage is destroyed & he's left wondering how on earth he'd let his life get to the situation he was in. It's interesting to see how his passionate youthful idealism - to spread the word that LSD is a tool which will heal & free the user, so if enough people are taking it, society could be changed permanently for the better (see also Aldous Huxley's "Island") - gradually changes as he recognises that LSD isn't for everyone & you can't put people where they aren't ready to be, however right you might think you are. The author is above any tub-thumping politics or manifestoes, but anyone reading this book will surely wonder why the "consenting adults" principle can't be extended to some of the areas of drug use discussed in this book.