BORDER GUARD by Don Whitehead


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The US Customs Service- ""the gray old frontier sheriff among the Federal agencies""- is the subject of this extremely informative and entertaining volume. Mr. Whitehead begins with a vivid historical sketch of the Service, from its hurried birth at the behest of James Madison, up through its battles with such colorful characters as the Laffite brothers, Samuel Swartwout, a New York Collector of Customs who walked off with $1,250,000 in the 1830's, the blockade runners of the Civil War, and the rum-runners of Prohibition days. He then goes into the structural details, the training which the agents receive, the laboratory end of it, and the large role played by paid informers. The bulk of the book is devoted to the major contemporary problems: gold being smuggled out of the country, and narcotics, diamonds, watch movements, Parisian gowns, Italian men's wear, faked or stolen art, and pornographic or pirated tooks being smuggled in. Each category is amply illustrated by true stories, some of which made headlines recently, but also many are told here in their complete form for the first time. The final chapters delve into the vastly intricate business of the proper classification of imports for the purpose of establishing duty rates, and little-known facts which could be of great help to Americans buying abroad. Mr. Whitehead has a remarkable ability to make all of this material become fascinating reading.

Publisher: McGraw-Hill