Author: Guy Lawson
First Published: 2015
Page Count: 242
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 3/5 Stars
A fascinating story about three stoners who win a government contract to supply weapons to the Afghanistan army that you will be stunned to find is 100% true.
*Shocking Story *Succinct Writing
*Wanted More Pictures *Interest Waned
“’Once a gunrunner,’ Diveroli told the ATF agent, ‘always a gunrunner.’” Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, two stoner friends living in Miami Beach, are the unlikely pair who, in 2007, were given the responsibility of a $300 million contract through the U.S. government to supply weapons to the Afghanistan army. Along with their friend Alex Podrizki (who joined the team later in the game), the trio become known across the world as the young, cocky gunrunners who are in charge of one of the largest aspects of the war in Afghanistan. However, the daunting task soon swallows up the naive friends when their mission to arm the Afghan army becomes embroiled in a number of scandals that could mean trouble for the stoners.
I had a professional interest in this story, and was completely floored at everything Lawson reveals in his book. It’s incredible how much the three guys accomplished and how far along they got in the gunrunning business. Yet it is even more eye-opening to realize everything the U.S. government allowed to happen and continues to allow to happen in terms of their contracting system for acquiring weaponry for war. The author provides only the necessary details to keep the story moving and it doesn’t get too technical for those of us not familiar with the art of war, weapons, or gunrunning. Add in the main characters, who are so funny and outrageous in how they operate and communicate, and you get an added element of comedy in the book.
The story is not very long so there is not much to complain about because the book is very focused. It does include a few pictures, but I could’ve used a few more personal photos of the three stoners. A couple of shots of their party lifestyle, if such photos existed, would’ve given a visual to their reputation. My interest also tended to wane whenever the story shifted away from the three stoners. They add a lot of humor and interest to the book because, while the way the government was operating in order to acquire weapons is shocking, the real excitement of the story revolves around the fact that three nobodies were able to become gunrunners for the U.S. government.
I’ll need to watch the film to see how it stands up. I have a suspicion that Jonah Hill fits his role as Efraim perfectly, but I doubt the film can capture all the intricate details of this harrowing true story Lawson has recorded. Though the military aspects of the book can make the reading a bit dry in comparison to what I usually read, the story is hilarious, crazy, and scary once you understand all that went down. It provides a view into the modern wars we don’t often think about, making it a great piece of literature for anyone to pick up since every person in this world has been caught up in this moment in history one way or another.
* Film Adaptation: (Starring Jonah Hill 2016)