If you missed The Last Pirate: A Father, His Son, and the Golden Age of Marijuna (Anchor Books) when it first came out in the spring of 2014, you have a great chance to catch it now in paperback. If you enjoy memoirs featuring larger-than-life characters and strong hits of comedy with all of life’s drama, you’ll enjoy Tony Dokoupil’s account of growing up as the son of the 1980s dope king of Miami, Anthony Edward Dokoupil.
Dokoupil ran the US operations of one of the largest marijuana rings in the 20th century. By several accounts, “Big Tony” was personally responsible for the distribution of at least fifty tons of the stuff.
“Little Tony” writes beautifully. A senior writer for NBC news, Dokoupil the journalist examines his memories and incorporates deeply personal stories into a tale that reflects not only the story of his own family, but provides an interesting and sometimes even illuminating tale about how drugs have fit into the American picture.
If you smoked Columbian weed in the 1970s and 1980s, I owe you a thank-you card. You paid for my swim lessons, bought me my first baseball glove, and kept me in the best private schools in south Florida, alongside President George H.W. Buch’s grandsons, at least for a little while.
It is this personal voice that elevates The Last Pirate beyond a simply interesting story about a colorful and somewhat tragic character. As the book begins, Dokoupil describes the end of his father’s drug dealing days in colorful strokes:
Each day ended with the ocean smeared purple, the men holding their ladies close, and the kids clustered on the bow, dreaming of shipwrecks, pirates, and buried treasures. Thew old around was fenceless and so was the future. But the Old Man was restless in this paradise. He had broken a cardinal rule of dealing and become an addict himself. Coke and hookers mostly. He left the party early in search of both.
Dokoupil has spun pure gold. Moving, sometimes funny, gorgeously etched and compellingly told. Whatever you come to The Last Pirate expecting, Dokoupil delivers more. ◊
Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.