4 out of 4 stars
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Roger is a farm boy that grew up in Georgia. His childhood wasn't all rosy, but it was fun and filled with love. His first stint into illegal activities began with distilling moonshine. That didn't go so well as he narrowly escaped a run-in with the law. Shortly after, he moved to California where he made do with many blue-collar jobs before he became a firefighter. While still a fireman, he dabbled into fishing and antique dealing with his wife, Marrie. The business exposed him to different cities and people. On one of his trips to sell his goods, he met Mike, an antique expert, and wholesaler. Mike apprised him of the antique treasures in Missouri and invited him to go hunting with him. On their way back to California, they got talking, and he told Mike of his intention to import Mercury from Mexico to California. But Mike had a more lucrative idea.
Smuggler by Roger Reeves is a beautiful memoir; the best I have read, yet. Its structure is akin to short stories, still, it flows chronologically and seamlessly so. Roger has lived an eventful life. His travels and exploits are the stuff of dreams. On the surface, this first-person narration of his life focuses on his time as a hauler of illicit drugs, but at its core, it's a memoir of adventure, love, family, and a man who tried more things and took more risk than the average person.
I judge an author's skill by their ability to make me feel. Smuggler kept me up at night; when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it, and I suspect thoughts of it will persist in my subconscious for a long time. It's not just the way each sentence is worded for maximum impact, it's the love shown, the beautiful pictures and memories shared, the countries explored, the waters navigated, the exquisitely described landscapes, the mistakes made, and the willingness to try new things and start all over, again and again.
The author made lots of questionable decisions and he paid for them, however; he made some profound points at the end, and I agree with him. Not so long ago, marijuana was an illicit substance in the US. After years of debate, some states have legalized it for medical and other uses; yet, those that were jailed for marijuana-related offences are still in jail in these same states. It doesn't seem right at all.
At first, I thought the author referring to black people as coloured people was probably reminiscent of his birth era. But it bothered me when he continued to use the term interchangeably in subsequent years.
Conclusively, I rate the book a hearty 4 out of 4 stars. It was a fascinating narrative, rich in content and depth. Besides some odd gaps between words in a few sentences, I spotted no grammatical errors.
As earlier stated, the book is rich and it would appeal to a wide audience. There is something in it for the adventurous, wanderlust, history, culture, planes, boats, and memoir lovers. Also, I'm tickled that the author was on the set of one of the Star Wars movie shot in Tikal. If you are not comfortable with drug smuggling, violence, and vulgarities, pick something else.
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