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Publisher's Summary

In the summer of 1987, Johnny Boone set out to grow and harvest one of the greatest outdoor marijuana crops in modern times. In doing so, he set into motion a series of events that defined him and his associatesas the largest homegrown marijuana syndicate in American history, also known as the Cornbread Mafia.

Author James Higdon - whose relationship with Johnny Boone, currently a federal fugitive, made him the first journalist subpoenaed underthe Obama administration - takes listeners back to the 1970s and ‘80s and the clash between federal and local law enforcement and a band of Kentucky farmers with moonshine and pride in their bloodlines. By 1989 the task force assigned to take down men like Johnny Boone had arrested 69 men and 1 woman from busts on 29 farms in 10 states, and seized 200 tons of pot.

Of the 70 individuals arrested, none talked. How it all went down is a tale of Mafia-style storylines emanating from the Bluegrass State, and populated by Vietnam veterans and weed-loving characters caught up in Tarantino-level violence and heart-breaking altruism. Accompanied by a backdrop of rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues, this work of dogged investigative journalism and history is told by Higdon in action-packed, colorful, and riveting detail.

©2012 James Higdon the Third (P)2012 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Mixed bag, but ultimately worth a credit

First, this is an interesting book and I liked it. Second, I could never produce something on a par with it and I respect the effort and diligence that went into its creation. However, I do have a few criticisms. I found that I enjoyed the portions that were based on actual records better than the stuff that's reported from one-on-one interviews with the "hillbillies" who produced all that Kentucky grass. The author is perhaps a bit too credulous when relating some of the stories he was told by these folks. OTOH, the solid straight reporting in much of the book balances those stories with enough facts that the stories are still fun to read, if not exactly "according to Hoyle" journalism.

My larger gripe is the author's insertion of his own book creation/subpeona to testify story near the end of the book. I found this part unnecessary and a little too self-satisfied for my taste (the Obama '08 stuff looks particularly naive in light of the way his presidency has, IMO predictably, played out). But again there is a shorter sort of coda that takes well-earned shots at a trigger happy US Marshall with some solid reporting to balance that excess. This shorter end portion, although also self-referential, works much better. It even includes a final sentence that provides a more level-headed assessment of the possibility that Obama's 2008 election would result in any positive developments in our absolutely insane war on drugs.

Finally, I listened to the audiobook version and the narration was clear and easy to follow. Unfortunately, the narrator was clearly unfamiliar with the regional pronunciations of central Kentucky while I am not. This didn't ruin anything about the book, but each appearance of, for instance, "Lebanon" or "Courier-Journal" produced a slight self-referential smirk from this Hardin County guy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I'm probably biased but this was a very fun book.

I binge listened to this book. I'm from the area they talk about in the book and it's very interesting to hear about places I know. I don't like the drug aspect of the book (not because the book did anything wrong, but I don't care for drugs even the ones advertised on TV), but like some mention, if it doesn't hurt me then it doesn't concern me. I find it interesting the politics behind the "wars" portrayed and how much freedom we've given away to fight inanimate objects and in this instance a weed. I do think this book represents much of the rural life and mind set. I guess to jump on my soap box and rant, by outlawing something as popular as marijuana you create a massive pipeline for the black market. Along with the pharmaceutical industry pushing drugs and being supported by the gov, you get them started by the doctors and the intricate pipeline seems to have plenty of avenues for the street opiates like heroine that are plaguing this state, but gets overshadowed by media crying over what someone said in D.C.

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very impressive story, hard to turn off

Somthing for everybody story, horticulturist, historian, law men, politics, corruption and concpericy. The ending has a bit of a running man theme, showing how Americas most wanted makes things up to hunt people more effectivly. Big take away for me is trying to understand who made this crazy law, lock up nonviolent FARMERS with killers and scumbags? God bless America?

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Great Book

This is a great read. I’m from Casey County so I grew up hearing the stories.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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The narration is so, so, bad

I'm not sure if they paid a person or just ran the transcript through a machine.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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great book that helps to preserve outlaw history

great book that helps preserve outlaw history one can learn allot by listening closely. #FreeJohnnyBoone #OverGrowTheGovernment

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    5 out of 5 stars
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loved it

really good book,starts slow with a long history lesson. Persevere however,it has bearing on the rest of the book if you just hang in there. It will all make sense in the end. Great story about a great product that should be legal long ago

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Hometown connections

I'm from that area and went to school with Jeff, several facts are true, entertaining book

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Horrible narration

Skip this, get the book.

Narrator sounds like a digitally generated synthetic emotionless disaster. Audiobooks are only as good as their narrator allows them to be.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Marion Co. Native

If you could sum up The Cornbread Mafia in three words, what would they be?

The real story

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Cornbread Mafia?

More than one

What didn’t you like about Paul Boehmer’s performance?

I wasn't much on his performance really. Being from the area the book is about i understand how the author ment the book to sound. The pronunciation of the words sounds nothing like how the character in the story really talk. It's so off that it changes the way one sees an understands the characters. I'm not just trying to find something to nit pick, it really aggravated me throughout the book. It just needed to be read by someone with an accent similar to the characters or people in this area. It would make more sense to the reader and get the authors point across.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

The real facts about the cornbread mafia which wasn't at all a mafia