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Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic Paperback – April 5, 2016
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From the Publisher
"Does what ‘Fast Food Nation’ did for fast food to Black Tar Heroin and oxycodone . . . A stunning journalistic journey that follows the history and narrative trajectories that lead to this entirely new style of cultivating drug addiction . . . I just love this book." - Marc Maron
“The most original writer on Mexico and the border out there.” ―San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“Over the last 15 years, he has filed the best dispatches about Mexican migration and its effects on the United States and Mexico, bar none.” ―Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Journalist Quinones weaves an extraordinary story, including the personal journeys of the addicted, the drug traffickers, law enforcement, and scores of families affected by the scourge, as he details the social, economic, and political forces that eventually destroyed communities in the American heartland and continues to have a resounding impact.” ―starred review, Booklist
“Quinones' research ensures that there is something legitimately interesting (and frequently horrifying) on every page. A-.” ―Entertainment Weekly
“[A] compelling examination . . . a driven and important narrative.” ―Wall Street Journal
“In Dreamland, former Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Quinones deftly recounts how a flood of prescription pain meds, along with black tar heroin from Nayarit, Mexico, transformed the once-vital blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, and other American communities into heartlands of addiction. With prose direct yet empathic, he interweaves the stories of Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics agents, and small-town folks whose lives were upended by the deluge of drugs, leaving them shaking their heads, wondering how they could possibly have resisted.” ―Mother Jones
“Smack is back in the news as heroin use spikes and busts pile up at the border, making Dreamland a timely book. Veteran journalist and storyteller Sam Quinones provides investigative reporting to explain the latest surge. But he also goes way deeper; he tells the social and human stories at the heart of the opiate trade and how it tortures the souls of America and Mexico.” ―Ioan Grillo, author of EL NARCO
“Dreamland spreads out like a transnational episode of The Wire, alternately maddening, thrilling, depressing, and with writing as sharp and insightful as a razor blade. You cannot understand our drug war and Mexican immigration to the United States without reading this book.” ―Gustavo Arellano, syndicated columnist ¡Ask a Mexican!
“Quinones is a veteran journalist and expert storyteller long steeped in the demi-monde of Mexican-American bordercrossings. Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic is an intricate jigsaw puzzle piecing together his findings from intensive investigation of the unprecedented spread of heroin addiction throughout the United States over the past two decades . . . Dreamland offers an eye-opening, enlightening and mesmerizing account of one of the most important stories of the last few decades . . . Quinones is a master storyteller, with a knack of bringing hundreds of characters to life . . . Dreamland stands as a model of meticulous investigative reporting providing important insights not only the current opiate epidemic but also into the sometimes negative symbiosis between our country and our neighbors to the south.” ―New York Journal of Books
"Quinones recounts individual tales--from junkies in Portland, Ore., to pill mills in Appalachia to entrepreneurial heroin traffickers from small-town Mexico--to describe a “catastrophic synergy” in which over-prescription of opioid painkillers begets addicts, many of whom then turn to heroin, which is cheaper and just as ubiquitous." ―Best Books of 2015, Boston Globe
“Unflinching . . . compellingly investigated.” ―Kirkus
"The path of heroin from America’s urban slums to its trim suburban subdivisions is traced by a Los Angeles Times reporter. Quinones’ deeply researched and readable book says well-heeled addicts got hooked first on pain-killing medications like OxyContin--but then switched to much cheaper Mexican heroin, feeding a problem across the nation." ―Best Books of 2015, St. Louis Dispatch
“Fascinating . . . a harrowing, eye-opening look at two sides of the same coin, the legal and illegal faces of addictive painkillers and their insidious power.” ―Publishers Weekly
“A haunting tale of opiate abuse in the heartland . . . Using expert storytelling and exhaustive detail, Quinones chronicles the perfect storm of circumstances that cleared the way for the Mexican narcotic to infiltrate our small and midsize communities over the last two decades.” ―Kansas City Star
"You won’t find this story told better anywhere else, from the economic hollowing-out of the middle class to the greedy and reckless marketing of pharmaceutical opiates to the remarkable entrepreneurial industry of the residents of the obscure Mexican state of Nayarit . . . Dreamland--true crime, sociology, and exposé--illuminates a catastrophe unfolding all around us, right now." ―Laura Miller’s 10 Favorite Books of 2015, Slate
"Dreamland is at once a heartbreaking narrative about the individuals in the grips of addiction, and a thorough history of how that addiction was made possible by a variety of key players. Featuring voices from every corner of the crisis, including pharmaceutical bigwigs, young Mexican drug runners, police, doctors, addicts, survivors, and families touched by epidemic, Dreamland is a must-read for anyone grappling with the story of heroin addiction in the United States." - Bustle
“The must-read book about America's heroin crisis . . . Quinones combines thorough research with superlative narrative skills to produce a horrifying but compulsively readable book about opiate addiction . . . a book that every American should read. And I state that without reservation . . . This book is as much of a page-turner as a good mystery, as well as being thoroughly and disturbingly illuminating about a national crisis.” ―Christian Science Monitor
“A gripping read and hard-hitting account of a ubiquitous plague that has flown under the radar.” ―Portland Business Journal
“Quinones's absorbing narrative is deep in research, on-site reporting, personal interviews and insight. Spanning the central U.S. and crossing the Mexican border, Dreamland adroitly unsnarls the tangled business that feeds a growing lust for chemical euphoria and relief.” ―Shelf Awareness
"Every so often I read a work of narrative nonfiction that makes me want to get up and preach: Read this true story! Such is Sam Quinones’ astonishing work of reporting and writing, Dreamland: the True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic." ―Seattle Times
“Everybody should read this book. Everybody.” ―Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
“An important frame of reference for understanding America’s opiate epidemic.” ―Portland Press Herald
"[A] powerful investigation into the explosion of heroin abuse in suburban America that combines skillful reporting and strong research with a superb narrative." ―The Spectator
"Compulsively readable." - A Doctor's Guide to Books, New York Times Book Review
About the Author
- ASIN : 1620402521
- Publisher : Bloomsbury Press; Reprint edition (April 5, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781620402528
- ISBN-13 : 978-1620402528
- Item Weight : 14.1 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.57 x 1.14 x 8.26 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #9,774 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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A whole generation of innocent babies afflicted by Purdue Pharma., JCAHO, quacks, charlatans, and savvy heroin dealers. It's a disgrace and a cultural regression that Sam Quinones has brilliantly brought to widespread public awareness with his book.
"Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic" is the tragic, frightening and prescient story of the heroin and opiate epidemic in the United States. And if you think none of this applies to you, that is all the more reason to read this book. Although it's especially corrosive in the heartland of Ohio, this is a nationwide problem, and we all need to be educated.
Reading more like a novel or a detective story, this cross between journalism and storytelling traces the "perfect storm" that led so many people--from professionals to prostitutes, teachers to cheerleaders--to became hooked on painkillers. Occurring in tandem was the uptick in heroin addictions, led primarily from high-quality "black tar heroin" from Mexico with dealers following business models that rival the nation's best-run corporations and delivery methods as efficient as your favorite pizza parlor. And then all hell broke loose when the paths of opiates and heroin crossed.
For five years author Sam Quinones did prodigious on-the-ground research to write this book that is on the one hand the most fascinating tale I have read in ages and on the other scarier than anything Stephen King could dream up--because this is real. And it's in your community. Find out how young men from Xalisco, Nayarit, a tiny village on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, became heroin entrepreneurs in the United States using methods that confused and confounded local law enforcement. Find out how Big Pharma embraced nefarious marketing methods for painkillers, especially OxyCotin, to convince family doctors to write millions of prescriptions. Find out how doctors, who were taught in medical school to be wary of prescribing addictive painkillers, found their hospitals' accreditation was at risk if patients were not aggressively treated for pain. Find out about quack MDs, who set up pill mills in hard-hit communities in southern Ohio and eastern Kentucky, became extremely wealthy off the residents' addictions. Find out how Walmart became an unwitting accomplice in the scourge of opiate addiction.
But there is hope. A lot of hope. The book ends on a positive note about all that is being done--finally--to fight the opiate epidemic, especially in southern Ohio.
"Dreamland" is compelling , riveting and eye-opening because it is not only the story of what has happened, but also the tale of the people--the individual lives--who got caught up in it. I gave this book five stars, but I would give it 10 if I could.
I spent half my childhood in Portsmouth, and visited it occasionally in the 1990s and 2000s. I saw the changes, but was unaware off the depths of corruption. I was stunned. Completely stunned.
The author closes with news that Portsmouth is in recovery; I hope they defy all the "coasters" and cynics. I'll be looking for a way I can help even if in a small way.
On the downside, I do wish the author hadn't referenced the delivery system as "like pizza" so many times; I got the point and the repetition made me hungry for Domino's.
Top reviews from other countries
The reason for 4 stars (and not 5) is that the story keeps jumping around between different times and different people and is often neither chronological nor following a specific person for a long time, making it sometimes confusing to follow. e.g. a character and their backstory could be introduced early on, but their role could become clear only many-many pages later, with the intermittent story addressing someone else or another part of the story entirely.