From the # 1 New York Times–bestselling author of Black Hawk Down: The “shocking” story of the country’s unlikeliest drug kingpin (The Baltimore Sun).
By the early 1980s, Larry Lavin had everything going for him. He was a bright, charismatic young man who rose from working-class roots to become a dentist with an Ivy League education and a thriving practice, and a beloved father with a well-respected family in one of Philadelphia’s most exclusive suburbs.
But behind the façade of his success was a dark secret: Lavin was also the mastermind behind a cocaine empire that spread from Miami to Boston to New Mexico, catering to lawyers, stockbrokers, and other professionals, and generating an annual income of $60 million for the good doctor.
Now, Mark Bowden, a “master of narrative journalism” (The New York Times Book Review) tells the harrowing saga of Lavin’s rise and fall in “a shocking American tragedy . . . [that] shoots straight from the hip” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
“An engrossing crime story and a compelling morality tale.” —The Arizona Republic
“Has all the elements of a chilling suspense thriller . . . A smoothly crafted, exciting, can’t-put-it-down book.” —The New Voice (Louisville)
A most unlikely drug kingpin, Dr. Larry Lavin was a Philadelphia dentist at the time of his arrest and subsequent sentencing to a 42-year prison term. But Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Bowden has done an exceptional job of showing how family background and the yuppie culture of the '70s and '80s combined to produce one of the East Coast's biggest cocaine dealers. The son of a man who had once been well-to-do but continued to try to maintain an upper-class lifestyle on a lower-middle-class income, Lavin was a brilliant scholarship student at Phillips Exeter, but was expelled for drug use. Accepted to the University of Pennsylvania, he became the biggest marijuana dealer on campus, at a time when more than half the students, Bowden estimates, were using pot. Then came cocaine and profits ranging into the millions, with an organization that involved dozens of people. Eventually, however, Lavin's flamboyant spending led authorities to suspect him. A notable, in-depth look at a figure who, even after his apprehension, was able to rationalize his criminality on the grounds that he was only supplying a demand.