By Jeff Labrecque
April 23, 2014 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Last Pirate

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Yo-ho-ho and some Colombian bud. At the height of the 1980s’ war on drugs, the scoundrels who defied Reagan by smuggling in tons of pot viewed themselves as latter-day pirates who lived by their own code of ethics and, apparently, the lyrics of Jimmy Buffett songs. Four years ago, journalist Tony Dokoupil tracked down one of the era’s most infamous outlaws: his own father. Big Tony was a reefer legend before he squandered millions on addictions and hookers and abandoned his family. Yet the author can’t help but romanticize his dad’s exploits — which include, among other things, a Walter White-like buried treasure — even as he wrestles with his own painful childhood. One day he’s classmates with the Bush grandchildren; the next, he’s dirt-poor, living under the cloud of being a drug dealer’s kid. Though Dokoupil concludes that he lost his father not to drugs or addiction but to ambition, he also admits, ”I am a son, and a son sees what he needs to see.” Readers might be less ambivalent, but they can at least get a contact high from the golden age of pot. B

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