"In a rare journalistic feat, Emily Brady burrowed deep inside an infamous subculture and emerged with a luminous but haunting dispatch about a secretive community of outlaw pot growerssome of whom would rather risk their lives than see their profits crushed by the decriminalization of cannabis. Brady's brave reporting pulls no punches yet makes no judgments as she chronicles four people torn by their allegiances to a place that represents the beauty and ruthlessness of the modern American frontier-and the hypocrisy of the country's drug policy. Humboldt is a triumph of immersion reporting: vivid, compassionate, maddening and unforgettable."
--Jonathan Schuppe, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of A Chance to Win"
Emily Brady escorts you into the redwood-studded mountains of northern California where a secretive marijuana culture thrives-for now-outside the law. Deeply reported and populated with vibrant characters spanning generations, Humboldt documents the real lives behind America's favorite high. A fascinating and timely read."
David Kinney, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and author of The Big One"
Emily Brady has written a terrifically gripping book about America's confused relationship with marijuana. A tour-de-force of investigative journalism, Brady takes us inside the world of pot growers in God's own country, and illuminates the policy issues around legalization in a series of beautifully rendered character portraits." Suketu Mehta, author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist MAXIMUM CITY: Bombay Lost and Found "
In her vivid, hypnotic HUMBOLDT, Emily Brady brings the notoriously secretive pot-growing community of Northern California to life through the lives of four very different Humboldters, whose nuanced stories form together like wisps of smoke." -Julian Rubinstein, author of the international bestseller Ballad of the Whiskey Robber"
Emily Brady has written a masterful opus dopus-to borrow a phrase from her book-chronicling the dreams and struggles of a community that has become infamous worldwide for their controversial cash crop. In Humboldt, she takes a clear-eyed look at the marijuana industry: its growers, trimmers, dealers, and family-run businesses. Readers will come away with a newfound and nuanced understanding of pot, but this is really a book about people whose outrageous, funny, and heartbreaking stories you won't soon forget."
--Brooke Hauser, author of THE NEW KIDS: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens"
In her book Humboldt, Emily Brady takes us on a rowdy off-road trip into the homeland of marijuana moonshining, where pit bulls guard the fields, cash fills up holes in the ground, and it's a bad idea to ask anyone you encounter what they do for a living."
Bruce Porter, New York Times bestselling author of Blow
Straightforward overview of Northern California's "Emerald Triangle," the rural region renowned for producing America's best cannabis. Brady spent a year among participants in the marijuana trade, earning their trust while observing their lifestyles. Although her narrative demonstrates that every resident is affected by this enormous illicit industry, she focuses on a few individuals, including a beleaguered sheriff's deputy, an itinerant manager of isolated cannabis "grows" and a young woman whose undergraduate research suggested that growing up amid pervasive illegality creates dangerous consequences for the region's youngsters. Brady notes that since the "Back-to-the-Land" movement of the early 1970s, Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties have become a strange synthesis of redneck and hippie perspectives, fueled by the development of a secretive yet widespread cannabis-cultivation industry. The financial rewards of "marijuana moonshining" only strengthened the residents' libertarian outlook: "This was a community that had paid a price for their decades long rebellion," including raids by the U.S. Army. Brady ably captures the social complexities of life in a region where dependence on cannabis (and the artificially high prices created by prohibition) is universally understood yet kept concealed: For instance, the deputy profiled by Brady theorizes that "many growers became members of local fire departments out of guilt over how they earn their living." As a narrative framework, the author uses the failed 2010 ballot proposal to legalize all uses of cannabis statewide, noting that many area growers actively opposed it, putting financial self-interest ahead of idealism. She thus captures a community torn between the unknown future of cannabis legalization and a present in which prison terms, violent rip-offs and destructive police raids remain commonplace. Though more a work of journalistic observation than social argument, Brady still demonstrates that the war on drugs makes "normal" life impossible in communities like those in the Emerald Triangle. A relaxed yet disturbing look at an alternative lifestyle, its heady profits and its hidden costs.