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Herding Cats



A bestseller in Vietnam under the title The Green Faraway Road, Herding Cats is a uniquely candid look at the “green underworld” that flourishes beneath Australia’s prosperous exterior, written by a former insider.

“Dân chăn mèo live in ordinary houses that contain a secret cannabis farm. They come up with various scripts for the crop-sitters to use to hoodwink the neighbours, police monitors, and public officials (known as cats). These people are called cats because cats are snoopy. Cannabis growers must overcome these cats. In essence, deflecting the cats’ curiosity is one of the most important determinants of successful cat herding. Put another way, dân chăn mèo are mice, but mice that herd cats! Although the authorities have measures to combat the secret growing of cannabis indoors, these are often ineffective. Diamond cuts diamond! As an intelligent man, chăn mèo or a ‘cat herder’ provides unique and bizarre mazes that act like lassos around the necks of the cats.”

– Herding Cats, Chapter 1.

“The author provides a rare and compelling first hand account of his time as a crop sitter for marijuana cultivations in domestic homes across Melbourne and its environs…Along the journey he offers some sobering observations on the limitations of law enforcement and border control authorities in their efforts to reckon with this issue. For readers looking for a ‘grass roots’ insight into the organised illicit drug trade today, this book has much to offer.”

Professor Andrew Goldsmith, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Criminology, Flinders University

“A raw, authentic insight into the secretive life of a Vietnamese Cannabis cultivator in Australia. The autobiography is an unsentimental account of life’s rewards and risks from inside the burgeoning and lucrative  Australian criminal underworld. Fast-paced and worth reading it should have wide appeal.”

Professor Daniel Silverstone, Head of the School of Law and Criminology, University of Greenwich.

“It proves that no fiction can be as thrilling as the reality of insiders.”

— Nguyen Manh Ha, journalist of BBC News (Vietnamese)

“Herding Cats” is an intriguing depiction of the underground lives of Vietnamese cannabis growers in Australia that mixes a realistic, engaging writing style like what is occurring right in front of your eyes on a documentary and the reflection in a period afterwards. The narrative inspires simultaneous thought of transnational crime, immigration policy, social stratification, and globalisation. I have read both the Vietnamese and English versions of the book; it is always intriguing and informatic and could only have been written by someone with firsthand knowledge.”

— Dr Viet Tho Le, a former senior digital journalist (BBC Vietnamese) and a former producer (SBS Vietnamese)


Additional information

Author Description

To Giang is a Vietnamese writer who lived for many years in Australia working in the illegal cannabis trade. Herding Cats is his first book, a memoir of his life in Australia.