“Sam Quinones is the indispensable ground-level guide to the epidemics of addiction that plague so many Americans. In The Least of Us, the tales of despair are brightened by seeing communities beginning to adapt and regrow to fight the horror that besets them. Everyone should read this.” —Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate in Economics and co-author of DEATHS OF DESPAIR
“With deep compassion and piercing insight, Sam Quinones beautifully captures the pain of America's opioid addiction and the gaping holes in society that allowed the tragedy to fester. He then not only offers condemnation of how we got here but true hope of how we can get out.” —Ioan Grillo, author of BLOOD GUN MONEY
“With The Least of Us, Sam Quinones continues to be the preeminent chronicler of the national opioid epidemic. By combining rigorous research, keen insight and listening to people's stories across the country, Sam has once again captured not only the pain and sadness but the resiliency and optimism that have come to be the hallmark of this epidemic.” —Michael Botticelli, Former Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
“Journalist Quinones follows Dreamland with a sweeping portrait of the destruction wrought by pharmaceutical companies, Mexican cartels, and other drug profiteers, and an inspirational call for a renewed sense of community to combat the isolation of addiction . . . This is a richly rewarding report from the front lines of an ongoing emergency.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Readers looking for the latest take on the drug trade and recovery as well as those who flock to well written journalism will dig into this.” —Booklist
“In a follow-up to his widely acclaimed Dreamland, Quinones explores the fentanyl and meth crisis sweeping the U.S. while at the same time spotlighting the moments of hope and community that keep us going. From the wreckage of ruined lives come stories of faith, trust and belief in our fellow humans.” —Newsweek
“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, on DREAMLAND
“[A] compelling examination . . . a driven and important narrative.” —Wall Street Journal, on DREAMLAND
“Quinones' research ensures that there is something legitimately interesting (and frequently horrifying) on every page.” —Entertainment Weekly, on DREAMLAND
“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 . . . a must-read for anyone grappling with the story of heroin addiction in the United States.” —Bustle, on DREAMLAND
“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.” —Boston Globe, DREAMLAND included in Best Books of 2015
“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.” —Slate, on DREAMLAND
“The most original writer on Mexico and the border out there.” —San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, on 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, on DREAMLAND
Quinones follows up Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (a 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award winner) with new reportage on drug trade and addiction in the United States. The book profiles individuals and communities to illustrate how the illicit drug trade has shifted from opioids to the far more dangerous fentanyl and new methamphetamine formulations; he makes the case that the nation is saturated with these potent fentanyl concoctions and homemade meth. His data demonstrates that fentanyl kills a steadily increasing number of people in the U.S., while the new meth can cause methamphetamine psychosis, with huge impacts for people experiencing homelessness. Quinones also interviews neuroscientists about addiction's effects on the brain and learns that sugar and addictive drugs follow the same neural pathways. He writes that legal prescription opiates fueled the illicit drug trade, which he compares to American capitalist culture and powerful consolidated markets that promote consumerism. He also posits that the American culture of individualism leaves people with addiction on their own. VERDICT Highly recommended for those interested in social justice and the strength of communities. Quinones argues that community can and must save "the least of us."—Caren Nichter, Univ. of Tennessee at Martin
Quinones sounds an alarm about a rapidly spreading form of meth in a follow-up to his award-winning Dreamland.
Buried in this overstuffed book lies an urgent story the author sees as overshadowed by the opioid crisis: the explosive growth of the potentially lethal form of synthetic methamphetamine known as P2P (phenyl-2-propanone). Through extensive but rambling interviews with people ranging from dealers to Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Quinones found that unlike earlier types of meth, made with hard-to-get ephedrine, P2P meth could be more easily made from “legal, cheap, and toxic” chemicals in Mexican labs and shipped north by traffickers. P2P, he learned, could cause intense paranoia and terrifying hallucinations and faster and worse harm than ephedrine-based forms: The new meth “was quickly, intensely damaging people’s brains.” Quinones maps the wreckage nationwide, including that it drew Black dealers to what had been “a working-class white drug.” What he learned is genuinely alarming but embedded in background material on topics that have been extensively covered elsewhere: the neuroscience behind addiction, the pre–P2P shifts from prescription painkillers to heroin to fentanyl, the toll opioids have taken in West Virginia, and the Sackler family’s disastrous stewardship of Purdue Pharma. The author also describes effective community-based responses to the crisis, such as church shelters for homeless addicts and “drug courts” that offer substance abusers an alternative to prison. Quinones concludes that the nation has forsaken “what has made America great” and that “when drug traffickers act like corporations and corporations like drug traffickers, our best defense, perhaps our only defense, lies in bolstering community.” After his account of the corporate missteps of the Sacklers and others, readers may be unpersuaded that the “best defense” might come from hard-hit communities themselves rather than from remedies such as tighter government regulation of rapacious corporations like Purdue Pharma.
A valuable but overlong overview of an underappreciated drug crisis.