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Author Sam Quinones' 'Dreamland' Chronicles America's Opiate Nightmare

Mary Ann Gwinn - The Seattle Times
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December 27, 2015

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic
by Sam Quinones
Check it out on

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”.

“Dreamland” documents how the prescription-opiate epidemic in America intersected with the heroin scourge, as a crackdown on prescription opiates turned people addicted to Vicodin, OxyContin and other opiates toward cheap Mexican heroin.

It’s a story of the American Midwest, where proud manufacturing centers in All-American states like Ohio turned into centers for “pill mills,” clinics where corrupt doctors prescribed Vicodin and OxyContin in bulk quantities. Desperate drug seekers looted Wal-Mart to pay for their habit, and an entire economy ran on the buying and selling of illegal prescription drugs.

It’s about the small Mexican town of Xalisco in the state of Nayarit, which became an international center for the trafficking of heroin involving a vast network of towns and cities on both sides of the Mississippi River. Dealers from Xalisco (the village, not the Mexican state of Jalisco) spread heroin to America’s wealthier suburbs, where kids raised in affluence could easily procure and pay for ever-cheaper heroin.

Since it came out in April, “Dreamland” has been named a best book of the year by The Seattle Times, The Boston Globe, Slate, Entertainment Weekly (“like a David Simon TV Show gone cosmic”) and Angus Deaton, Nobel Prize-winning professor of economics at Princeton, who called it “as fast-paced and compelling as any thriller.”

Read the rest at The Seattle Times

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