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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 associates as 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 under the Obama administration—takes readers 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 sixty-nine men and one woman from busts on twenty-nine farms in ten states, and seized two hundred tons of pot. Of the seventy individuals arrested, zero 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 soundtrack 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.
When Kentucky Blueblood Drew Thornton parachuted to his death in September 1985—carrying thousands in cash and 150 pounds of cocaine—the gruesome end of his startling life blew open a scandal that reached to the most secret circles of the U.S. government. The story of Thornton and “The Company” he served, and the lone heroic fight of State Policeman Ralph Ross against an international web of corruption is one of the most portentous tales of the 20th century.
Underneath the squeaky clean surface of the town of McWhorter, Kentucky, lies a secret club. Controlled by Jock, the town's mayor, this club decides the fate of McWhorter over servings of sausage gravy and cathead biscuits during Tuesday morning breakfast meetings. No one who dares cross Jock survives long. So when a Baptist housewife decides to run against Mayor Ledford in the May primary, neither she nor the mayor have any idea of the hornet's nest being stirred up. When hometown basketball hero Trooper Daniel Brooks returns to McWhorter, he's assigned to investigate the mysterious deaths of many of the mayor's Tuesday Club members. During the investigations, Daniel renews his relationship with the mayor's daughter, Caroline Ledford, whom he has been planning to marry since he was ten years old. When a feisty blond FBI agent named Tillie Grant arrives in McWhorter, Daniel finds himself entrapped in a love triangle. His life is further complicated when he realizes both women have motive and means to commit the very murders he is investigating. He soon finds out that the recipe for small town justice includes Gravy, Grits, and Graves.
Articles by scientists, educators, researchers, and writers provide perspectives on today's important topic in the study of drugs, society, and behavior.
Moonshine is corn whiskey, traditionally made in improvised stills throughout the Appalachian South. While quality varied from one producer to another, the whiskey had one thing in common: It was illegal because the distiller refused to pay taxes to the US government. Many moonshiners were descendants of Scots-Irish immigrants who had fought in the original Whiskey Rebellion in the early 1790s. They brought their knowledge of distilling with them to America along with a profound sense of independence and a refusal to submit to government authority. Today many Southern states have relaxed their laws and now allow the legal production of moonshine—provided that taxes are paid. Yet many modern moonshiners retain deep links to their bootlegging heritage. Moonshine Nation is the story of moonshine’s history and origins alongside profiles of modern moonshiners—and a collection of drink recipes from each.

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