- Special Sections
- Public Notices
In an area where the line between right and wrong isn’t always a straight one, author James Higdon returns some respect to rural Marion County, Ky., a region publicly tarnished as a lawless haven for drug dealers and criminals throughout much of the 1980s and ’90s.
In “The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History,” Higdon boldly takes an unprecedented nosedive right into the heart of America’s largest homegrown marijuana syndicate. He leaps straight off the high dive right into his home turf, a place where Higdon and generations of his family know people don’t talk freely about other people’s business.
Building on the Catholic heritage of this largely agricultural area, Higdon paints a vivid portrait of the value of family, faith and a hard day’s work, but he doesn’t do so with a broad stroke.
By reviewing historical documents, newspaper clippings, stacks of records received through Freedom of Information requests and countless personal interviews, Higdon rolls up this Central Kentucky region’s legacy of hardworking farmers turned moonshiners during Prohibition before setting the story ablaze with the rich characters of Raywick and Lebanon, Ky., who became known as the Cornbread Mafia.
This book will make you laugh out loud. It’s not often you encounter non-fictional characters who incite justice, Kentucky-style, by locking someone in a trunk full of snapping turtles.
Like a group of friends who sit around in a smoke-filled room, the excellent storytelling in “The Cornbread Mafia” flows freely and conversationally. It will light you up and take you through a gamut of emotions before you eventually settle down from the high you get when some of the most notorious men in the “Mafia” get a chance—at least in part—to share their stories about how country boys like Johnny Boone, Bobby Joe Shewmaker and Jimmy Bickett grew vast quantities of Mary Jane beneath the cover of cornfields and Kentucky’s wooded knobs, before expanding operations to multiple other states.
While the marijuana-growing operation is the catalyst for the book, the heart of the story is the men who prophesize and profit from the plant the American government deems unacceptable for civilized society.
Pick up the book for the intrigue or to learn a little more about the complexities of growing pot, but keep reading it for the insightful stories about a region of people who’ve been branded as outlaw rednecks and hillbillies. Plus there are lions and bears and sex tapes, oh my!
You’ll breeze through the 400 pages of this well-written non-fiction piece while getting to know more about the boys turned men who had enough brains and brawn to grow Kentucky Bluegrass, a strain perfected by the tenacity of a little Kentucky 4-Her who grew up to be one of America’s Most Wanted.
The book is available in hardcover on Amazon for $15.85 or $9.99 for Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/The-Cornbread-Mafia-Homegrown-Syndicates/dp/076277....
It’s available at Barnes and Noble for $16.74 hardcover. It's available for Nook for $11.39. Visit http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-cornbread-mafia-james-higdon/1106240....
Beacon Managing Editor Stacey Manning grew up in Bardstown, Ky., the government seat for Nelson County, a neighbor and partner-in-crime of sorts to Marion County, Ky., where many of the events in this book take place.