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Eating Smoke: One Man's Descent Into Crystal Meth Psychosis in Hong Kong's Triad Heartland

3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  345 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Chris Thrall left the Royal Marines to find fortune in Hong Kong, but following a bizarre series of jobs ended up homeless and in psychosis from crystal meth.

He began working for the 14K, a notorious crime syndicate, as a nightclub doorman in the Wan Chai red-light district, where he uncovered a vast global conspiracy and the 'Foreign Triad' - a secretive expat clique in c
Paperback, 420 pages
Published September 16th 2011 by Blacksmith Books (first published September 15th 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,232)
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Dec 11, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-story, kindle
I rarely pre-order books due to an incident a while ago involving a dodgy publisher...BUT...I pre-ordered this book and I couldn't wait for it to be delivered to my Kindle.

I've heard how Meth destroys peoples lives and I tend to enjoy reading about real life, gangs, the underworld and so forth...Sooooo, when I was browsing Amazon one day I stumbled onto this book and was highly intrigued about the title "Eating Smoke".

Sometimes it's hard to believe what people do during their life and how they s
Collette Scott
Oct 06, 2011 Collette Scott rated it it was amazing
When Chris Thrall left England for Hong Kong in search of his fortune and fame, the outcome he received was most likely not the one that he had hoped for. Leaving a career in the military, he hurried out to Hong Kong to capitalize on a booming business, ready to entertain the wealthy and make a fortune. While he found a fun-loving group of friends, he also found the potent and dangerous drug, crystal meth. This blunt and entertaining read is the story of Mr.Thrall’s coming of age the hard way, a ...more
Jonathan Chamberlain
Apr 05, 2012 Jonathan Chamberlain rated it it was amazing
Chris Thrall is a young man with extraordinary gifts - gifts that I hope have survived the terrible psychotic breakdown that he experienced after living on little else but drugs, it would seem, for a year in Hong Kong. Other reviewers have mentioned the humour, but what, for me, was the most remarkable part of this tale was the way reality and paranoia merged. The slip from normality to madness was extremely well portrayed. I will throw books away after a few chapters if they don't grab me - thi ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Marti rated it it was amazing
Chris Thrall’s “Eating Smoke” is a fascinating, beautifully written account of a British Royal Marine’s descent into methamphetamine addiction. Thrall is adept at description -- the hustle and bustle of the city of Hong Kong, and the dope fiends and hard-drinking expats he hung out with come alive as the story unfolds. Chris is so likeable and funny that readers will find themselves spinning out with him, but clinging desperately to the hope that he will get his head straight. The author has cap ...more
Tom Carter
Nov 06, 2011 Tom Carter rated it it was amazing
What just might be the funniest if not first autobiography ever penned by a drug-addicted foreigner in China, Chris Thrall's “Eating Smoke” contains more spiritual pollution than all of the titles on the Communist Party's banned books list combined.

In a country whose history was irrevocably altered for the worst by the scourge of foreign-imported opium throughout the 19th century, it is no wonder that today’s China has one of the world’s least-tolerant anti-drug laws - including executions for t
Chris Thrall
Dec 05, 2012 Chris Thrall rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: memoir
Amazon review from 'Flossie'

(Amazon review) Without a doubt one of the best books I've ever read. I devoured it in less than a week and have subsequently bought another five copies for friends for Christmas. A beautiful mix of humour, sadness and nostalgia, along with a terrifying portrayal of the devastating effects of crystal meth. Chris brings the sights, sounds and general hustle and bustle of Hong Kong to life to the point that you feel you're right there next to him throughout his drug fue
Jun 14, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chris Thrall. Should be Chris Thrill.

A Brilliant book. Once I started it I couldn't put it down.

It has exemplary pacing, is completely engaging and The tone he writes in is honest, sometimes sad, and sometimes humoursous, and it has a wealth of winning detail.

Chris uses such verve, enthusiasm and faultless comic timing that it is hard not to be swept along.

Sometimes when a person comes close to death, they find their soul.

Chris Thrall shows us his in what is bound to be a best seller.

An ins
Completely gripping read about the transition between reality and a drug induced psychosis. Told with humour and honesty you can't help feeling sympathy with Chris and the path he took in Hong Kong in Clubland. Its a brave thing to be so honest about making some bad choices and skill to allow you to experience that shift in reality to the mental breakdown caused by crystal meth. It was actually really informative too about the Hong Kong psyche and complex social rules that govern the triads.
Constance Markarian

I've read many books on drugs and drug addicts; some good, some not. This book happens to be great. This is the true story of a young man who moves to Hong Kong, hoping to make his fortune. Instead, he discovers crystal meth, and pretty much becomes immediately addicted. Anyone who has ever been addicted to meth knows that it pretty much gets a hold of you almost immediately. Chris Thrall, the author of this book, was no exception. He holds back nothing on his roller coaster ride of
Andrew Carter
May 18, 2015 Andrew Carter rated it it was amazing
Amazon Review from Andrew Carter

I read Eating Smoke when I was living in Hong Kong so it had that added interest for me . At the time it was doing the rounds among my friends and colleagues and I'd only heard good things so picked up a copy.

I finished it over a weekend. Chris Thrall writes with such clever pacing and wit that you are immediately drawn in.The start of the book is interesting in itself; a twenty something marine starting a new chapter in his life by moving to Hong Kong in the mid
May 01, 2012 Carla rated it it was amazing
An hallucinating journey fantastically written! Congratulations Chris, on your talent, and your courage!
Jeremy Blum
Sep 15, 2015 Jeremy Blum rated it liked it
Decent story about an ex-military gweilo who comes to Hong Kong, falls into some rough times in Wanchai and gets hooked on crystal meth while working as a bar bouncer. If you've ever spent time as a foreigner in the Pearl of the Orient, you'll be able to relate to a lot of what Chris is describing here. The rough and tumble, gotta-make-money-or-die-trying nature of Hong Kong, the greasy expats that spend way too much time in dirty bars hitting on local girls and Filipinas, the way so many down-o ...more
Sep 09, 2014 Patricia rated it it was amazing
This book came to my attention via social media. After several days of seeing it show up on Twitter and Facebook I decided to purchase a copy.

I was expecting a sad tale, as I have seen crystal meth addicts on television on their death bed and trying to warn others not to go down this road.

The book was informative about the mindset of the author during his stay in Hong Kong, but more than that it was funny. I have never taken drugs or been to Hong Kong, nor have I served in the military. However,
Nov 12, 2012 Glenn rated it it was ok
I understand this is the author's first writing, so have to cut Chris some slack, but I didn't find this to be well written at all, and just couldn't get past some of the glaring deficiencies, so it fell flat for me. I felt Chris pretty much got what he deserved, as he self-destructed by making many poor choices in his life, so he wasn't a sympathetic protagonist either. Parts also rang untrue or as if they were embellished beyond reality, ala James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. I'm not saying ...more
Dec 11, 2011 Sunny rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
What a fabulous read. This book definitely leads you into the descent into drug psychosis as you watch helplessly as Chris Thrall spirals out of control and is seemingly unaware of his ability to grasp reality. It all starts swimmingly for Chris Thrall who is forever optimistic when he heads to Hong Kong to become wealthy off a business venture only a young and naive individual would think would be successful. When this unsurprisingly fails, Chris (or Quiss as his Chinese or Filipino friends ref ...more
Aug 25, 2011 Susan rated it it was amazing
This book works on so many levels. For starters, Chris Thrall's character is very sympathetic throughout the book: on his first two trips to Hong Kong, at the end of his seven-year career in the Royal Marines, and during his roller-coaster ride through Hong Kong during the bulk of his story.

Not since Richard Mason’s The World of Suzie Wong (Collins, 1957) and Han Bangqing’s The Sing-Song Girls of Shanghai (Columbia University Press, 2005 [first published in 1892]) has a writer taken such an in-d
Tom Carter
Nov 20, 2011 Tom Carter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What just might be the funniest if not first autobiography ever penned by a drug-addicted foreigner in China, Chris Thrall's “Eating Smoke” contains more spiritual pollution than all of the titles on the Communist Party's banned books list combined.

In a country whose history was irrevocably altered for the worst by the scourge of foreign-imported opium throughout the 19th century, it is no wonder that today’s China has one of the world’s least-tolerant anti-drug laws - including executions for t
Gabriel Azevedo
this book was a fucking blast to read. the ending gets disjointed but it makes sense as thrall is completely psychotic at that point. thrall tries his best to avoid being orientalist but it really doesnt matter, hes still some british dude in a (former) british colony and sometimes he comes off as extremely patronizing, especially with the way he writes the dialogue of non native english speakers.

problematic or not, this was a fun read.
Apr 10, 2012 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Evan by: Tom Carter
A former Royal Marine trying to find his place in life. Running to Hong Kong using all of the resources on the table would've been my same thought if I were in the same position.

Ultimately, circumstances didnt work out as planned and his experience slipped into the realm of paranoia from drug psychosis.

What hooked me was I could relate to it as it seemed similar to my own life. I may not be a marine as they wouldnt accept a cancer survivor into their ranks, but I understand how hard it is to c
Chris Thrall
Nov 03, 2011 Chris Thrall rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Amazon Review:

Whenever I buy a book, I always have a slight reservation it might be one I shelve halfway through. This is certainly NOT the case for Eating Smoke, I couldn't put this book down! There's no other read like it. Chris takes you on an incredible journey, putting you, the reader, in his footsteps as he travels the hectic streets of Hong Kong, works in a bizarre series of jobs before descending into drug addiction and psychosis while working as a nightclub doorman for his triad employe
Kathleen Kelly
Jan 11, 2012 Kathleen Kelly rated it it was amazing
Eating Smoke is a gritty true story of a young man who leaves the Royal Army for a better life in Hong Kong, or so he thought. Chris Thrall finds that life in Hong Kong is full of drugs, prostitution and the Triads and is not a particularly great place to be. As his addiction to crystal meth leaps out of control, he finds himself homeless, doing more and more meth, not taking care of his body and becoming extremely paranoid. I found this story to be sad, emotional and happy at the same time. Sad ...more
Apr 07, 2014 Julia rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fabulous book. More insight into a collectivist culture than any anthropological study. Similar to Shantaram but much much better.
Jun 28, 2012 Miriam rated it it was amazing
This book had a very unexpected effect; while reading it I actually had the most bizarre sensation of speeding on some sort of substance stronger than my usual caffeine. This continued throughout the book, causing me to feel oddly at home in this frightening world where the author lived and very nearly died.

This is more than a cautionary tale. This book is an amazing bird's eye view into a world that hopefully you will never go. You may find, like I, that you want to know more once you finish re
Aug 15, 2014 Sheabody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christ Thrall writes with vivid imagery and has a delectable way with words. In "Eating Smoke...", he describes his 13-month plunge into the depths of psychosis and drug abuse. This memoir succeeds in conjuring up the intensity and chaos of Hong Kong and reveals the masterminds of Hong Kong's underworld, rife with people acting above the law. We are introduced to a number of very colorful, seedy, and deceptive characters, some of whom have learned to exploit the flaws of human nature to get thei ...more
Christopher Clifford
Aug 08, 2015 Christopher Clifford rated it it was amazing
As a former Hong Kong expat myself, I found this book to be a highly entertaining read and and a very accurate portrayal of the side of Hong Kong that most tourist never see ... One of my all time favorites !
Mar 22, 2016 Jen rated it it was ok
This is a great book for getting a sense of the sights, smells and feel of Hong Kong and a first hand account of meth addiction.

My beef, as another reviewer mentioned, was how this book was marketed. I was looking for something about life inside the Triads. In reality, the first third of the book is about his business failing and getting addicted to met. The last third was rather incoherent navel-gazing which, I get, was a good illustration of the mind of a meth addict. The middle dealt with hi
Jan 24, 2012 Coral rated it really liked it
Heather Mackins
Mar 14, 2013 Heather Mackins rated it it was amazing
Excellent insight into the real life drug world, excellent.
Bob Finlay
Dec 26, 2012 Bob Finlay rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this one.
Zohar -
Mar 02, 2012 Zohar - rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Eating Smoke: One Man’s Descent into Drug Psychosis in Hong Kong’s Triad Heartland by Chris Thrall is a memoir of the author’s time being a drug addict in Hong Kong. The book takes a good look at into the red light district of Hong Kong, the colorful Wan Chai district.

At eighteen Chris Thrall joined the Royal Marine Commandos serving in Northern Ireland and earning his well deserved merits. However, the lure of business and money were strong.

In 1995, Mr. Thrall moved to Hong Kong to expand his n
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Chris Thrall is a former Royal Marines Commando and author of the bestselling memoir Eating Smoke, his experience of crystal meth addiction while working for the Hong Kong triads. A qualified pilot and skydiver, Chris has backpacked throughout all seven continents, worked with street children in Mozambique, driven aid workers from Norway to India and back by coach, and scuba dived with leopard sea ...more
More about Chris Thrall...

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“Now, I don’t think I’m a stupid guy. I’m just an average guy who does
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