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Heart of Dankness: Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  171 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Reporting on Amsterdam’s famous Cannabis Cup competition for the Los Angeles Times, novelist Mark Haskell Smith sampled a variety of marijuana that was unlike anything he’d experienced. It wasn’t anything like typical stoner weed—in fact it didn’t get you stoned. This cannabis possessed an ephemeral quality known to aficionados as “dankness.”
Armed with a State of Californ
Paperback, 233 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Patrick Brown
Feb 22, 2012 Patrick Brown rated it it was amazing
This book is pretty much precisely what I want from a nonfiction book. It's got a lot of information, and I left it knowing more about the subject than when I began it. But more importantly, it's really, really fun. It could serve as a travelogue about Amsterdam (indeed, it prompted me to realize I've actually read quite a few books about Amsterdam, a city I've never even been to), and it's a great look at the bizarre state of American marijuana legislation, where you can be on sure legal footin ...more
Tiffany Hawk
Jun 25, 2012 Tiffany Hawk rated it it was amazing
Heart of Dankness is up there with the best of the best of non-fiction. It’s the kind of writing that grips you even if you start out with no interest in the topic (think Jon Krakauer on fundamentalist Mormons or Lauren Hillenbrand on horses). Right up front, I will admit that I have a bias – Mark Haskell Smith is a mentor of mine, and as a writer, I buy the books of people I know out of solidarity. But I’ll also admit that I planned to drag my feet on reading this one (sorry Mark) because I hav ...more
Kate Abbott
Jan 20, 2013 Kate Abbott rated it it was amazing
I originally bought Heart of Dankness because I know Mark Haskell Smith and I like him. But I'm so glad that I read it, because it's a really fascinating look at a world I hadn't seen before, as well as an entertaining exploration of places I haven't been. Plus ever since I read it I've been thinking about the "dankness" of various things I encounter.
Jun 25, 2012 Chris rated it it was amazing
I'll admit that I'm a fan of Smith's novels. What that says about me and my sense of humor, well, I'll let you be the judge...

But the biggest thing a reader would have to wonder how someone that primarily writes fiction would do in the non-fiction realm. For Mark, he's made the transition amazingly well.

This book has his trademark, no-holds-barred sense of humor, while not only presenting us with some wonderful and colorful folk, but it also is quite informative on the Cannibus Cup, the legaliza
Apr 27, 2013 Adam rated it really liked it
*Disclaimer: received a free copy through Goodreads' giveaway section.*

I'm not a smoker or pro-legalization advocate, but this book was awesome. It's a scientific look at what makes pot "dank," as the author puts it. For the most part, this amounts to what gives it those positive attributes people enjoy?

Part travelogue, part behind-the-scenes peak at an underground culture, this was a great read and I hope the author continues down the non-fiction path.
Jul 13, 2014 Martin rated it did not like it
I know this subject pretty well. And this book is pretty clueless. DO NOT WASTE MONEY! But if you pick it up at sale/used bookstore/yardsale -its a goofy read. Do not mistake it for serious work.
Apr 23, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
An exhaustively researched, thoroughly entertaining, and politically insightful romp through the world of cannabis growth, production, and consumption. This book is dank.
Joye Austin
Oct 28, 2012 Joye Austin rated it really liked it
I loved it. :)
Nov 26, 2012 Eric rated it it was amazing
Gonzo journalism at its dankest!
Apr 04, 2012 Adam rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I have enjoyed everything that I have read by Mark Haskell Smith, which is to say that I've read everything he's written. Despite this book being non-fiction he has a way of writing characters that seem fictional. This could be in large part due to the fact that a lot of the people that he met while on his stoner-sojourn needed to protect their identities so that they weren't picked up by the Feds.

And that right there is the beautiful thing that is brought out in the book: the fact that it is c
Krystal Hickam
Apr 19, 2013 Krystal Hickam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I would like to first thank the author, the publisher and goodreads for allowing me an ARC of the Heart of Dankness.

Now I was a little skeptical when I first looked over the book and its brief description. Most books about the Green side of life are full of nonsensical dribble that runs on and on. Withtopics that have no relation to each other nor can keep an intelligent person engaged for more than five minutes at a time. I was relieved that this book was not one of those, and that I would reco
Jul 24, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it
An interesting look at the modern world of cannabis cultivation and the author's quest to define the elusive quality of "dankness". This is not an exhaustive overview of the history of cannabis or how it is grown or the conflicting state and federal laws concerning its possession and cultivation. I put it into a category of books that I find fascinating--that of people with obsessive interests.

The author looks not at large scale pot farming but at people who spend inordinate amounts of effort at
May 28, 2012 Drew rated it really liked it
MHS wrote a non-fict about weed. It's framed well, exploring the mosaic-rainbow of characters of the now-global cannabis culture.

*MHS discussing his need for weed with a CA pot doc.

*Talks to a high-end dispensary owner in MHS's neighborhood in Los Angeles, where the owner entrusts Mark with the knowledge that most mood-altering drugs abscesses the function of risk in the human brain and that the American Gov't knew this stat before the economic meltdown in 2008.

*Talks to many of the
Craig Buck
Jul 06, 2012 Craig Buck rated it really liked it
A rollicking romp through the world of cannabis cultivation and agricultural celebrity. Using the annual Cannabis Cup awards, the Oscars of hempdom, which can turn a pot seed geneticist into a millionaire overnight, author Mark Haskell Smith follows the sweet smell of success from the hidden pot farms of Mendocino to the boutique seed cultivators of Amsterdam in search of the elusive definition of dankness. This is the first nonfiction offering I've seen from MHS, but the dark humor of his novel ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Cathy rated it really liked it
In the movie Pineapple Express, Pot dealer James Franco is explaining the family tree of his great new weed to a customer. His description is a page straight out of this book. It's an education in the care and breeding of marijuana and of the annual international competition held in Amsterdam that judges the world's best pot. This world is seen through the eyes of those the author considers the best growers in the U.S. and Europe. After a few chapters you start regarding high grade weed as somet ...more
Tony DuShane
May 18, 2012 Tony DuShane rated it it was amazing
Mark Haskell Smith has a dark sense of humor and it excels here as he reports and immerses himself in the Cannabis culture.

I have utterly enjoyed his novels over the years because his voice is so strong, they are plot drive and read more like literary fiction.

With Heart of Dankness, Smith has honed his skills as an excellent story teller from the fiction side of things to put together a compelling and fun read on the pot scene.

He pulls no punches when dealing with hipsters and those who are too
Apr 20, 2013 Lissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This was a Goodreads Giveaway.

I don't have a personal investment or interest in the subject of cannabis but I really enjoyed this book. It is part travelogue, part portrait of quirky, likable people and part scientific history of marijuana. It was extremely well written and very humorous at times. I am not sure that I still understand the point of the search for "dankness" but the run-up to and results of the Cannabis Cup were entertaining.

Overall, this is not a book that I really would have p
Jun 26, 2014 Iangagn rated it it was amazing
"Heart of Dankness" is that perfect kind of book for me. It's short, but not too much and the pace is quick. The humor is genuinely funny and it makes the story even better than it already is. The only thing I felt needed a bit of polishing was the author's quest to define the term "dank." I think that the story is good enough by itself and that it doesn't need anything more. That being said, this book is definitely dank!
Mar 27, 2013 Jeannette rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I was hoping for a lot more from Smith. I'd hoped that reporting on the Cannabis Cup would allow him to educate us about marijuana's history, power, and current controversies. Instead, the focus was exclusively on efforts to develop new hybrids. True, some of the characters who are working on that are diverting. But I felt I really had the appetite for maybe a long article on the subject, rather than a whole (if slim) book.
Sep 23, 2012 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was well written, funny and witty. I also thought it really provided some interesting arguments and points of a conversation that needs to be had. One of the most interesting ideas was that getting "stoned" was a SIDE EFFECT of smoking pot. Interesting idea, the thought that there is way more to pot than being stoned.
Aug 25, 2012 Gary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Probably a very interesting book if you smoke dope, yearn for the personal freedoms of Amsterdam, or are interested in the different strains of pot that have been developed over the years. That has never been my thing, so I found the book a little too boring.
May 15, 2014 Walter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heart of Dankness is a fascinating. Haskel-Smith applies brilliant travel and adventure writing style and takes what was once a subcultural phenomenon and delivers a truly entertaining read, that’s not just for “potheads"
May 24, 2014 Emilade rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. Especially the part about the migrant bud tenders. Although I felt the entire part about "what is dank" was kind of unnecessary.

It's a great book, you should read it.
Aug 01, 2014 Aaron rated it really liked it
Funny. Engaging. A well-rounded and informative novel with plenty if lovely prose and story craft, and just enough hi jinks (pin intended) to tie it all together.
May 08, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it
Some nice sections but not super in-depth. Author could have done some further research.

Light and frivolous. Probably good beach reading.
Apr 14, 2013 Aixe rated it it was ok
Interesting subject matter, presented in a rambling, not-edited-enough manner. I find this author to be a better writer of fiction than non-fiction.
May 27, 2012 Leslie rated it really liked it
Interesting characters, great topic, and some truly lovely writing. I'm a big fan of Mark Haskell Smith's fiction, and found lots to love in this too.
Chelsea (CrackABook)
Chelsea (CrackABook) rated it really liked it
Oct 07, 2012
Siobhan Coley-amin
Siobhan Coley-amin rated it it was amazing
Nov 09, 2014
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Mark Haskell Smith is the author of five novels and the nonfiction books Naked at Lunch and Heart of Dankness. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Independent, Salon, Literary Hub, Slate, Howler, and Vulture.

He lives in Los Angeles. He likes Mexican food.
More about Mark Haskell Smith...

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“The fact that, in the United States, there are people serving ten-year prison terms for growing marijuana plants in their backyards while Wall Street racketeers, who have defrauded millions of people and destroyed the global economy, walk free is a kind of bizarre hypocrisy that boggles my mind.” 39 likes
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