My favourite real world hustler of all? The Welsh weed smuggler Howard Marks, aka “Mr Nice” which was one of the 43 false passport names he used. Forget the film of the same title, it’s Marks’ autobiography that you should read for its warmth and cheeky charm, straight from his own mouth.
A secret agent for MI6, connections to the IRA and the CIA and infamous for smuggling the world’s largest amounts of cannabis, Howard Marks’ life story sounds like the plot of every heist and spy movie you’ve ever seen rolled into one big fat true tale.
Arrested by the DEA in 1988, he was sentenced to a 25 year stretch inside one of America’s toughest jails, Terre Haute. Released after serving seven years, Marks went onto write several books about his hustling days, of which Mr Nice is his finest.
Witty, charismatic, brazen but above all human, Howard Marks was the original Black Sheep Bandit if ever there was one.