Reviews & Quotes

howard marks aka mr nice

12 May 2011

‘This book is f***ing good – engaging, witty, suspenseful and interesting.

As bold and innovative as its author, To Live Outside the Law takes the reader on a breath-taking guided tour of academic acid absorption, hitch-hiking hells, emotional whirlwinds, years in the slammer, and colossal amounts of dope.’



testimonial for leaf fielding

5 September 2011

Just a fabulous read.

I loved this book. I was never into Leaf's kind of lifestyle in the 60s & 70s but secretly wished I had been. So this book was an insight into a life that I could have had and as such was immensely informative and interesting. I was riveted from the beginning. A brilliant first book.

From Cindy, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

4 September 2011

Brilliant book! Loved it! Really interesting and well written.

You get totally into it and his life, couldn't put it down & read it in two days!

From H Clarkson, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

2 September 2011

Quite a trip...

I'm not really sure why I ordered this book - I've never taken acid myself and I'm not really interested in the drug scene - but I did find it to be a really good read. After the book begins with the Operation Julie bust, Leaf (Nigel) then goes back in time to describe his 50's childhood and his coming of age in the 60s, his subsequent drop out from college and his travels throughout Europe and the East. He evokes the hippy ideals of the time well, although his prose is not at all flowery but clipped and very much to the point. He similarly describes his time in prison in the same down-to-earth way, without any histrionics or bitterness.

Although he describes how he was initially motivated by a desire to 'turn the whole world on' in a bid to give everyone greater conciousness, he later comes to realise this was mindless hippy idealism. However, despite this idealism - which many of us who lived through these times were prone to - he also seems to have kept a basic decency and common sense, and been very lucky! He seems to have come through everything relatively unscathed and well-balanced and you get the feeling he'd be a very interesting person to go for a pint with.

From G E Harrison, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

30 August 2011

This is a book of many facets: part personal memoir of the '60s-'70s psychedelic scene, part `true crime'-style insider account of the Operation Julie escapade, subsequent bust and jail time, and also a larger meditation on the cultural and spiritual impact on humanity of that most potent and exotic of illegal substances--LSD.

The honest and candid writing, coupled with the willingness to reveal intimate details, build into a lucid and fascinating portrait of a talented individual whose youthful waywardness and `rebellion' ultimately stretched too far for his own good…

Overall the account comes over as an especially extreme version of the crash of the hippy dream; yet the indomitability of Leaf's spirit and the survival of his core beliefs and attitudes is inspiring indeed. What makes To Live Outside the Law an excellent work is the way Leaf succeeds in conveying his shifting points of view in a kind of `Seven Ages of an Acid Idealist' fashion, so that we get the frank and honest fruits of his experience and not some loaded piece of propaganda or regilded tale of romanticised outlawhood. It is a great read--an entertaining peculiarly British nostalgia-trip page-turner and an invaluable addition to the canon of acid literature.

Roger Keen, Blog and Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

25 August 2011

I don't really have an awful lot to add to all that has been said in praise of this book. It is extraordinarily well written and a gripping read.

To my mind it is not only a tale of one lad's experiences; it is a tale of the rise and fall of the 'freaks'. I quite expect it to become a 'classic', a book that will be spring to mind whenever that wonderfully hopeful, idealistic and naive youth subculture is mentioned.

bookworm, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

21 August 2011

Leaf Fielding, in To Live Outside the Law, writes about his role in the 1960's and 70's counter-culture in the UK. Mainly revolving around his prison sentence as a result of the 1977 Operation Julie acid bust, the biggest in history, and his experiences that led up to it, this book is an invaluable record of that time.

He personifies a certain spirit of the sixties and seventies and has been able to express that zeitgeist in this autobiography in a way that will keep the reader more than interested. And if you have ever been curious about what it is really like to be busted and lucky enough for it never to have happened to you, then this book is going to fill you in on that as well as be an exciting read. You'll feel even luckier than you did before.

There is plenty of background. Leaf's life before the bust, his childhood, school, university, dropping-out, travel, rock festivals, dope, his ideas on the role LSD could play in changing the world, and how everything led up to becoming part of a huge acid-producing outfit.

If you can remember those times this book will help to put it all in perspective, if you can't it will make very informative and in many ways enlightening reading. And you won't be able to put it down.

Asparagus, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

17 August 2011

The books deals with Leaf's life from unhappy public schoolboy to nomadic dope dealer, from LSD distributor and health food shop partner to being locked up in prison. His life, like most, is full of ups and downs, and his insights are both interesting and entertaining.

There is humour and sadness, excitement and tension. His style is an easy read. For anyone who remembers Op Julie, it is a trip down memory lane with the added extras of background depth and new dimensions, new characters and new light on the mechanics of The Bust. It also puts in perspective the ideals of the hippies with the reality they were trying to change… Recommended reading. Now what did I do with my old chemistry set.........

Paul Pinn, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

4 August 2011

Whereas it is difficult to muster up any sympathy for a person that has been "turning people on to acid for ten years", I've got to admit that this story is truly engaging and interesting right from the beginning where he and his accomplices are arrested in "Operation Julie" in 1977. It was the biggest drugs operation ever and involved eight hundred police officers, saw 120 people arrested and resulted in the price of LSD rocketing.

He is a very good storyteller and balances the travel stories of his youth well with the years he spent imprisoned as well as his formative years at boarding school and "under enemy occupation" at home. As mentioned above, I don't have much time for him as a person - or rather the person he was when these events took place… but I suppose there wouldn't be much of a story to tell, had he chosen to live on the straight and narrow.

There is no excuse for what he did (and he doesn't make any other than being Young and Stupid), but he has been punished and the book is worth a read - also because it is a great image of the changing times of the late 60s with the advent of the hippie movement and backpacking for the masses as well as of course the different geographical and political setup of Europe at the time.

Maria2222 "maria2222", Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

30 July 2011

Operation Julie immortalised on the second Clash album was aimed at smashing the last vestiges of the 60's counter culture, the one promulgating acid micro dots to the UK hoping to turn on and drop out the world.

Leaf even makes the tedium of trying to describe an acid trip into poetry that connects. He also points out why the Acid Revolution failed and this was due to the disparity between what was revealed and what people had in terms of themselves. After the first few goes the effect wears off as mundane reality seeps in through the corners. Still as revolutions go it was fun. The long term effects of the acid revolution have barely registered as 60's hippies became the 70's and 80's idealogues as the machine swallowed en masse. Was it conspiracy? Now the full paranoia of the state is being revealed the 60's naivety can no longer be maintained. The clue is in the book when he travels to see his father in Singapore and the chaps are talking about Wilson. Someone lets the cat out of the bag declaring his willingness to initiate a coup. Just like real life.

After trying to turn the world on; the counter reaction and the lock up, the sense of fear in the cells, the breaking down of the personality into fragments, the need for confession. Strangely or not, LSD never appeared in the drug detox I ran for over 16 years but heroin, alcohol and cocaine abounded, if you want to know one part of the question why turn to the "Politics of Heroin" by Alfred McCoy or read "Whitehout" by Alex Cockburn. Conspiracy is the nature of the paranoid State.

All aspects of this book evoke memories for anyone who has trod on the beast and been devoured by its pincers. This book is an immersion into those "crimes" as it criss crosses the 50's, 60's, 70's and then is halted in its tabs.

Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST", Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

29 July 2011

When I received this book and started reading it, I just couldn't put it down. I sat up all night and read it in one go. It is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read… Leaf Fielding really takes his readers into the world of late 60s and early 70s counterculture Britain, a world that now seems long ago and far away.

I laughed out loud several times (especially when Leaf describes a policeman confessing what had happened to him when he accidentally ingested some on the raid!), and cried a few times too, always a sign of a good read.

If you want to enjoy a cracking read about a not-very-often discussed aspect of 60s and 70s Britain, then this is the book for you.

Nuclear Girl, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

27 July 2011

This is a cracking good read. Fielding has led an interesting and adventurous life and has an excellent way with words with which to describe it. He's an intelligent and self-effacing chap, qualities which help give a balanced view to the sometimes volatile subject matter.

The book also serves as an amusing insight into the occasionally haphazard and amateurish world of drug manufacture in Britain during the early to mid 70s. The book covers the first half of the author's life up to his release from prison in the early 80s. There's talk of another book detailing subsequent (non drug-related) adventures in Spain, Malawi and France to follow - an automatic purchase if this is anything to go by.

tf, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

18 July 2011

‘… It's a very well-written book too. Leaf Fielding is very good at describing people & places, & I certainly found the book "un-put-down-able."

I picked it up to have a flick through & was soon totally immersed in his description of a 1950's childhood & upbringing which were totally recognisable to me. Similarly, the sections describing his teenage wanderings around Europe, & the adventures he fell into with the folk he met along the way will be very evocative to anyone who's followed that trail. In the same way, the prison descriptions are very straightforward & honest, without any self-pity or sensationalism. In the end I barely put the book down until I'd finished it some 24 hours later.

This is a much better book that I'd expected. It's a fascinating story, & Leaf Fielding shows an enormous amount of perception, honesty & awareness in his writing. There are times when his self-belief wavers, like when his marriage is destroyed & he's left wondering how on earth he'd let his life get to the situation he was in. It's interesting to see how his passionate youthful idealism - to spread the word that LSD is a tool which will heal & free the user, so if enough people are taking it, society could be changed permanently for the better (see also Aldous Huxley's "Island") - gradually changes as he recognises that LSD isn't for everyone & you can't put people where they aren't ready to be, however right you might think you are. The author is above any tub-thumping politics or manifestoes, but anyone reading this book will surely wonder why the "consenting adults" principle can't be extended to some of the areas of drug use discussed in this book.’

Dennis A. Browne, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

10 July 2011

‘I really enjoyed this book… Fielding seems to sum up his era perfectly.

He was idealistic. He was a vegetarian, a dope-smoker, a guy who wanted to turn the rest of the world on… in other words, the genuine hippie experience. Fielding tells it well – he went all over Europe and hung out in Turkey, Morocco and the Far East. It sounds romantic and that's because it was. The world was a different place then. The thing that makes it work is that it's set in a prison cell. Fielding remembers his hippie days through the lens of his incarceration, which gives it even more of a hallucinogenic edge. There was barely a page I couldn't imagine vividly, as if this were a movie. I'm sure it will be made into one – a sort of international, politicised version of Withnail and I. You get a real feel of the grottiness of the student flats and bedsits of the 1970s, the guys in multicoloured outfits and Afghan coats. You can almost smell the Afghan coats. But Fielding also takes you to beautiful parts of the world – to beaches and mountains and lovely buildings in Florence. And then, suddenly, you're back in prison, with its routine violence and slop-out buckets. Fielding has encapsulated an era – the transgression, the crime, the clothes, the music, the makeshift drug labs. He reminds us that, in living memory, people believed that getting out of your head was a force for good, that LSD might just stop capitalism in its tracks.’

William Leith, The Observer

testimonial for leaf fielding

10 July 2011

‘His (Fielding’s) book has been assembled and crafted with the same assiduous zeal he once used to stamp out tens of thousands of tabs.

The narrative starts with his arrest and maintains dramatic suspense by alternating episodes from his time in prison with his picaresque existence on the out. The result is a compelling read which – every so often – offers vivid intimations of the ferocious protean power of the substance that altered his life so decisively.’

Peter Carty, Independent on Sunday

testimonial for leaf fielding

6 July 2011

‘The book is very well crafted and grabs the reader from the first page. The author switches back and forth between events after his arrest and his life leading up to that point. This device creates the tension and anticipation which makes it a racy page-turner.

On the other hand the book is laced with sparkling phrases and tellingly original ways of stating things which gives it a literary quality rarely found in works of this genre. The author does a very good job of describing the effects of LSD. It is notoriously difficult to describe hallucinatory drug experiences without them sounding hopelessly banal or so relentlessly over the top that the reader ends up unable to keep up. But more than just describing the actual effects of LSD, Fielding manages to accurately position his contact with acid within the framework of his whole life and his psyche.’

Johan van Rooyen, Amazon

testimonial for leaf fielding

6 July 2011

‘Leaf takes us back with him, in remarkable detail to those idealistic days of early psychedelia to tell the tale of brave adventurers, daring deeds… I drank in every page and as a result of not being able to put it down it was finished all too soon.’

Steve Allin. International Hemp Building Association

testimonial for leaf fielding

5 July 2011

‘I found your writing style to be lively and consistently interesting, with many a memorable phrase to be enjoyed. The cyclical structure of the book was a good device and, unusually, the parts of the book relating to your early life were just as absorbing as the psychedelia infused chapters later on. Your choice of music was right up my alley also, with the sole exception of Bruce Springsteen …

The gallery of characters you came across on your travels was very entertaining … your amazing journeys brought you into contact with more than the average person might meet. If you do another volume, I will be looking out for it. Thanks for a great read!’

Brendan Harrington

testimonial for leaf fielding

30 April 2011

‘A great, life-affirming book.’

Pete Ayrton, founder and publisher of Serpent’s Tail
(The Observer’s panel of experts listed Pete Ayton at number 15 in their top 50 of the literary world's most influential people.)

testimonial for leaf fielding

25 March 2011

‘An illuminating piece of social history… a consistently gripping account… fundamentally strong… well-written… a riveting read.’

Karl French, The Literary Consultancy

testimonial for leaf fielding

11 March 2011

‘As gripping and compelling as the best fiction.’

David Smith, Annette Green Authors’ Agency

stella wulf

3 July 2011

‘Whether you’re a child of the sixties or not this book will not fail to captivate and intrigue. Leaf takes us on a helter skelter journey of self discovery, idealism, rebellion and drugs, vividly capturing the zeitgeist of the sixties and seventies. He makes no excuses for his actions.

This is an honest and poignant account of his ‘life outside the law’ with its inevitable consequences. Idealism comes at a price!

There is no doubt in my mind. ‘To Live Outside The Law’ will be a best seller. A thoroughly good read!’

Stella Wulf: Author of ‘The Song of the Froom'

roger bamford

15 February 2011

‘It was a great read, you felt that you were somehow part of it all.’

Roger Bamford, Film and TV director

sue whatmough

3 July 2011

‘As Leaf’s sternest critic (his words!), I have looked through his manuscripts countless times over the years and always been amazed at his story. However, the greatest thrill of all was to finally hold his book in my hands and read it as a reader. It‘s still extraordinary, fresh and exciting as well as moving and I shall probably read it many times more.’

Sue Whatmough, author of ‘No Copy of the Script’.

caroline whittle

27 April 2011

‘When you're hooked by the first page, you know you're in for a roller coaster ride… brilliantly written, so honest and a knock-out read!’

Caroline Whittle, Web Designer, The Alternative Office

testimonial for leaf fielding

19 October 2014

“This is a great read on many different levels. Its fast moving, well written plus it’s an insight into a unique era thick with history, when the world was a very different place to what it is today.

It covers three different aspects of the writers life - living as a hippy, as a drug dealer and as a prisoner. The book switches back and forth between these era’s and links up in a way to keep you hooked to the end. It is an interesting and very honest overview of someone who lived an alternative lifestyle.

You don’t have to have been around in the 60’s and 70’s or involved with illegal drugs to appreciate the story as its more like an adventure than an auto biography.

A highly recommended read”.

Robert Lowe


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