Neil is a former undercover police officer from the UK and the bestselling author of Good Cop Bad War (2016), and co-author of Drug Wars (2018). He is a board member of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership in the USA and chair of the organization in Europe.
We asked Neil Woods to share a little bit more about himself—he provided an insight:
🍽 If I could, I’d invite Angela Davies for dinner. As an activist my heroes are those who have been fearless in the struggle. Ms Davies is brilliant, from street champion to academic powerhouse. I don’t necessarily agree with all of her political thinking but I’d so love to cook for her and pick her brain. My ideal dinner evening would also include the gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.
🎶 What is my theme song? I couldn’t really say I have a theme, that would seem to be too self indulgent for a self conscious introvert like me. But one of my favorite songs is Wondrous Stories by Yes. I’m a huge Prog and Fusion fan, the unfettered imagination and musical storytelling helps me cope with the seriousness and intensity of my political work. I can really lose myself in a Yes album, or some Miles Davies.
📚 When it comes to recommended reading, I think everyone should read His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. It’s a young adult masterpiece, and also a remarkable critique of organized religion. It certainly upsets some staunchly religious people, but the best writing should be challenging and certainly it should provoke thought.
I also strongly recommend Criminal: The Truth About Why People Do Bad Things by Tom Gash. This accessible piece of criminology successfully challenges both left and right wing views of the causes of crime. It makes it clear that political ideology is a huge potential barrier to truly understanding and dealing with crime.
I could write and recommend books all day. But I’ll finish with a recommendation of my good friend Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream. This study is a carefully crafted collection of true narratives that unlocks the futility and savagery of the war on drugs. Every politician should read it.
🎤 If I had not become a police officer and taken that path that now makes me an activist, then I’d have loved to make music. I’ve always sung, from being in a professional choir as a child to singing in rock and metal bands. I left my last band, a rock covers, party band in 2012. My work in drug policy left me with no time to practice and perform. But I have very fond memories of getting audiences cheering and dancing.