As an undercover police officer with the drugs squad, Neil Woods regularly risked his life on the streets, dealing with some of the most violent and unpredictable criminals in Britain.
Good Cop, Bad War is a unique story about a man with a striking ability to infiltrate and extinguish drug gangs but who, as the success of his operations grows, becomes disillusioned with the war on drugs, as he sees how it demonizes those who need help whilst empowering the very worst elements in society. This is an action-packed true-account listen like no other.
©2016 Neil Woods (P)2016 W.F. Howes Ltd
Everything about this story is really interesting and written in such a captivating way that I couldn't stop listening, I'd heard Neil on Scroobius Pip's podcast which led me to this book. The narrater is really good. Highly recommended
As an anarchist I rarely have a good word to say for the police but this book is insightful and compassionate. Woods fiercely argues for a rational alternative to the woeful war on drugs (really a war on society ) and as an undercover cop directly involved in the war his message has to be taken seriously.
Was given a tour of a world that I would never enter in to. Great book, was sorry when it finished and makes a lot of sense at the end.
excellent informative game changing . I'd recommend it highly. Nothing more to say really .
"Brilliant insight into undercover policing"
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A brilliant insight into undercover policing and his ideas on drug law reform are spot on.
"Does not fulfill potential"
A very poorly written book which detracts from what could have been an insightful perspective.
"Interesting and enlightening message but..."
Could have done without the poorly written and very repetitive conscience ridden, hero genius stuff and read the last two chapters as an essay.
"A game changer"
Few books that you will ever read will completely change your thinking about a subject. Good Cop, Bad War is hugely entertaining, even thrilling at times but most importantly,
"Fascinating and compelling"
A brilliant story of frontline policing and the dawning realisation of the futility of the war on drugs.
Good narration although I'm not sure all of the regional accents hit the mark. I think they helped add to the atmosphere of the story though.
Have been saying this for years..........will it ever change? As the author says "there is too much money involve"???
A wise old head with a bunch of great tales. Brilliant exciting and thought provoking stuff. Works both as entertainment and a furious political tract. If you can judge a book by how many people you want to buy it for as a present after reading then this passes my 6 present test. An important gripping book. Full disclosure: I'm a bit of hippy and legalising drugs has always been a firm belief of mine. But this guy isn't wolly. He's analytical and has the life experience to eloquently support his arguments. There are parts of this book that really upset me, and other where you get a cop v gangster thrill, but it's his humane and moral view of what is right and wrong which sticks. He is a man clearly haunted and feeling guilty from the things he's done, but also full of hope. Just bloody ace. Excellent unobtrusive narration too (except for the Jamaican/brummy accents near the end haha!)
Worth a punt - you won't be disappointed!
"Not Quite What It Says On The Tin"
Yes, I would recommend this audiobook but listeners and readers should be aware that it isn't about the author's "undercover life inside Britain's biggest drug gangs" as the cover would have you believe.
The author Woods was an undercover cop but not an "infiltrator." He was a drug "buy and bust" expert. Rarely did he operate above the level of street level users and dealers.
Having said that, it is a good read (listen) and I can only repeat the review I have previously left on Amazon. I hope it helps.
My review is based on listening to the Audible version of this book.
Where to start in my review of this book? Rarely these days do I read a book that radically changes my opinions. On the subject of drugs, I have long held an open mind neither advocating the use of illegal drugs nor condemning those that do. I am not a hypocrite. Neil Woods, however transformed my thinking about the “war on drugs.” I am now a firm believer that all countries starting with the UK and US should follow Portugal’s example and decriminalize drugs. Not do away with all sanctions but copy the lead shown by Portugal in putting health first and cease treating the drug user as a criminal. Note, I say user and not the trafficker in drugs.
The author’s message is one of an end to prohibition in its entirety and it is rammed home relentlessly. It has clearly become a crusade for Mr. Woods and I wish him well. Before I continue, I have a disclosure to make. I am now a writer and like the author of this book a former British undercover cop. I have also written a book about my undercover days [ [ASIN: B01JUTPN30 Undercover: Operation Julie - The Inside Story (Kindle) ] ] and I suggest that readers interested in this genre of memoirs ought to read both in tandem. Between the two books, it will give you a real sense of what it is to work undercover and a thorough grounding in the history of British drug culture.
Apart from the strong message about decriminalization, Woods also tells a shocking tale of life in the streets of urban Britain, a subterranean life of homeless people and drug addicts. These are the streets he inhabited and the people he associated with in his undercover role. He was a “buy and bust” expert rarely infiltrating the drug scene above the very lowest level of the distribution chain. He was unlike me, where my role involved me infiltrating the higher echelons of the “food chain” to borrow Woods’ phrase. I would not have swapped places with him for “all the tea in China.” I admire how he dealt with the constant squalor and violent street level dealers. The higher up you operate in this chain, the more sophisticated it gets both in the characters of the traffickers and their modus operandi.
That brings me to one of my few gripes about this book. Woods seems to give the impression that he “invented” undercover drugs work. He wrote that undercover work was “so new in those days.” I beg to differ but I say no more about that. My other gripes are mainly based on technical points such as early on in his career the book has him addressing his sergeant as “Sir.” A sergeant is never addressed in that way. That minor issue may just be an example of co-authors falling between the cracks and a lack of proof reading by the one author who should have known better.
I also have a problem with his account of firearms being used by some of these dealers he says he encountered. The fact of firearms possession was never written up in his evidence book. My jaw hung in disbelief at the thought!
One thing became clear about Woods’ personality – he was determined even to the extent of working a case on his rest days. On reflection, is that determination or an obsession? I often pondered whether he would have been better suited to a caring profession such as a social worker.
There are other things I found strange. For example, in the middle of an undercover operation he stayed at a five-star hotel with a posh restaurant dressed like a street drug user. Why? The book is riddled with peculiar anomalies like that which perhaps only someone with my experience would note.
It’s no wonder the author makes an admission of doing “bad things.” The best example is the incident with “Billy.” Woods in his UC role persuaded Billy to “up the ante” by supplying 1 kilo of cocaine instead of his normal street “eighths.” Billy got 5 years!
Woods’ chosen cover often involved him posing as a “speed freak” or user of heroin or crack cocaine. This was an incredibly reckless tactic leaving him open to discovery and worse. It’s one thing giving off the aura of an addict but to go to the lengths Woods went to was courting disaster.
On the subject of discovery, the author mentions on several occasions being subjected to an interrogation by dealers but the book is sadly lacking on detail of exactly how he managed to persuade his interrogators as to his “authenticity.”
It was interesting that the author confessed a need to “learn about people” early in the book. He’s right. Any good police officer, undercover or not, needs to understand human nature. Policing is a people business.
One further device I found irksome was the author’s extrapolation of involvement in the downfall of organised crime gangs (OCGs) by his street-level UC activities. To claim that by scoring one rock in Leicester from a man with Jamaican connections to him uncovering an international drug ring with mention of the DEA thrown in for impact, is one such example.
I ask the reader of my review to also understand I was a criminal defence barrister for 14 years after my undercover days. That may help you understand why I query the author’s statement that a notorious gangster was on bail for murder. Really?
I reiterate the book gets better as it progresses. One can only have the utmost sympathy for the likes of Cammie, Davo and Gary as well as the “sex for sale” girl. I too have met these people and Woods paints a compelling and truthful picture of street people.
Ultimately despite my pickiness over technicalities, I found this an enjoyable and enlightening read. It was both enlightening and horrifying to learn how much the tactic of undercover policing had been overused (and abused) during the tenure of Mr. Woods. Clearly the lessons learned from Operation Julie were ignored. I also found it encouraging to learn that present day undercover officers are now better cared for than in my day. No one should underestimate the real mental stress of working undercover.
Without the technical issues I have mentioned, this would have been a 5* review. Alas, I feel compelled to deduct one star but don’t let that deter you from reading this book.
You may also may be converted to the “gospel” of decriminalization It should be mandatory reading material for all politicians..
None but through no fault of the narrator. He was excellent.
See the body of my main review. It focused my thoughts on to the whole issue of decriminalization of drugs. I now believe in a similar policy to that used in Portugal for the UK.
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