Buy this book at
To Past Reviews Index
Back to Last Page

Mr Nice

Howard Marks

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Vintage

Published : 1998

Copyright : Newtext Limited 1996, 1997

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7493-9569-9
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7493-9569-8

Publisher's Write-Up

During the mid 1980s Howard Marks had forty-three aliases, eighty-nine phone lines and owned twenty-five companies trading throughout the world.

At the height of his career he was smuggling consignments of up to thirty tons of marijuana, and had contact with organisations as diverse as MI6, the CIA, the IRA and the Mafia. Following a worldwide operation by the Drug Enforcement Agency, he was busted and sentenced to twenty-five years in prison at Term Haute Penitentiary, Indiana. He was released in April 1995 after serving seven years of his sentence. Told with humour, charm and candour, Mr Nice is his own extraordinary story.

'Frequently hilarious, occasionally sad, and often surreal.'


'A man who makes Peter Pan look like a geriatric with sleeping sickness.'


'A folk legend... Howard Marks has huge charisma. He sounds like Richard Burton and looks like a Rolling Stone.'

Daily Mail

'Marks weaves a fascinating story spiced with brilliant detail, far stronger than fiction.'

FHM Magazine
Column Ends


Reader Reviews

Why not Submit a Review your own Review for this book?

Review by Chrissi (011202) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
This was a book I 'borrowed' from Ru's flat when we (Ray, Nigel and I) went to visit him at the beginning of the month. It actually belongs to a wonderful barman called Steph (I think that is the right spelling but that's all the plug, guys…) who works at the Biddy Early's Irish Bar in Stuttgart. I don't think that I can remember Howard Marks, but I do remember a furore about a drugs baron... well, here he is, in his own words.

The Mr Nice of the title is an adopted false name, and it really does seem to fit. Mr Marks seems to have been one of those people who just happened to be not only in the correct place but also the correct position at the right time. He went to Oxford, and started smoking cannabis at a time when the drug was still seen as an eccentricity, rather than a crime. As a result of his cannabis use, he seems not to have done that well at University but he did get to meet lots of interesting people with his room becoming a drop-in centre for the youth of Oxford.

What comes across throughout the book is that he not only wanted to make money and have a good time, but as a user of the recreational drugs he imported he wanted everyone else to enjoy what he sees as a harmless bit of fun. He was not purely financially motivated and the crimes that he committed were in the course of his business, rather than because he wanted to break the law.

I read this with incredulity and absolute fascination for the deviousness that had to be employed bringing this stuff in. We were sitting on a German train when I came to the bit about their main receipt and distribution centre, and I had to read it out loud - it was at Trelleck which we had been to only two weeks before - I had thought that Trelleck was a tiny place and it amused all of us to think of it as a hotbed of illegal activities.

They say that regular cannabis use damages memory function, but this guy has the most amazing recall, and it is the early stories that are the best, the later recollections are a bit melancholy, with him and his wife being arrested and held for extradition to America in a Spanish jail. The saddest thing was that his wife pleaded guilty for something she did not do, to be able to get back to their children, and then could not visit him in jail in America because she had a criminal record.

If you fancy a good story and are fond of autobiographies, then this is a seriously good book. This guy deserves to be as famous as Timothy Leary but in a very English way. I cannot imagine for one second that the dirtier side of the illegal drugs trade did not come to involve him, but it would seem that he was very divorced from the crime that comes to be associated with all forms of drugs and appears to be a very personable man. It makes for good reading.
Chrissi (1st December 2002)

Back to Top of Page
Column Ends