Dopeworld is a free-rolling and frank depiction of the global narcotics scene, in which Niko Vorobyov makes it his job to introduce us to as many in this crazy cast as possible. For sheer variety, he does not disappoint... But, political as it is in parts, the book is not a polemic. For that, it would have to be far more ordered and coherent than it is. Vorobyov is, both literally and literarily, all over the place. It is not that the book lacks opinions; it’s more that the opinions appear at random, like the addled pontifications of a bar-room drunk. This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, there is a long tradition of form following befuddlement in this field... To its credit, Dopeworld is nothing if not ambitious. Vorobyov states as much himself, describing it bombastically as ‘true crime, gonzo, social, historical memoir meets fucked up travel book’. That is a lot to cram in. If sometimes he drops the ball (the opium wars get a single page) or holds on too long (as with the chapters on prohibition and mob history), then perhaps it’s to be expected. For all its structural problems, this remains an important book.