Not many people go from being raised as an orthodox Jew to becoming an international drug smuggler. Hank Cooper, a Canadian who grew up in Toronto, traveled that path. After becoming an adult (chronologically, at least), in the nineteen seventies and eighties, Hank lived anything but what his parents would have called a normal life during his twenties and early thirties. Maybe it had something to do with his orthodox Jewish upbringing, but then again it probably was a combination of a million other things, especially luck, which he discusses in his memoir, Smuggling with Jesus.
Based on a series of events that formed Hank Cooper’s life, Smuggling with Jesus resembles a work of fiction or a TV movie-of-the-week, but everything in this memoir is exactly as it happened with no need to exaggerate. Only Hank, with his eye for detail, sardonic approach to the world around him, and capacity for self-reflection, could tell the story of his wild ride with a drug smuggling character named Bernie, who may or may not have been the reincarnation of Jesus. Hank and Bernie’s wild ride included cocaine smuggling, Uzi-brandishing drug lords, sex, celebrities, rock and roll, corrupt law enforcement officials, and exotic places Hank couldn’t believe he was visiting. The wild ride ended when the birth of his son suddenly turned Hank into a grown-up.
Smuggling with Jesus is appearing at the right time: Drug smuggling and drug use – and their consequences – hit the headlines almost daily, a Mexican drug lord was recently apprehended, and the nineteen seventies and eighties are now almost ancient history ready to be described to a new generation. Hank’s potential audience includes his baby boomer contemporaries who might be thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I,” millennials who won’t be able to believe Hank’s transactions took place without the assistance of electronic devices, psychologists who will scratch their heads as they wonder what made Hank and Bernie tick!!!