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Dreamland: Book summary and reviews of Dreamland by Sam Quinones

Dreamland

The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

by Sam Quinones

Dreamland by Sam Quinones X
Dreamland by Sam Quinones
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About this book

Book Summary

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America - addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland.

With a great reporter's narrative skill and the storytelling ability of a novelist, acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma's campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive - extremely addictive - miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin - cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico's west coast, independent of any drug cartel - assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.

Introducing a memorable cast of characters - pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents - Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.

Amazon.com's Best Books of the Year 2015
Michael Botticelli, U.S. Drug Czar (Politico) Favorite Book of the Year
Angus Deaton, Nobel Prize Economics (Bloomberg/WSJ) Best Books of 2015
Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky (WSJ) Books of the Year
Slate.com's 10 Best Books of 2015
Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2015
Buzzfeed's 19 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015
The Daily Beast's Best Big Idea Books of 2015
Seattle Times' Best Books of 2015
Boston Globe's Best Books of 2015
St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Books of 2015
The Guardian's The Best Book We Read All Year
Audible's Best Books of 2015
Texas Observer's Five Books We Loved in 2015
Chicago Public Library's Best Nonfiction Books of 2015

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Book Awards

  • award image National Book Critics Circle Award, 2015

Reviews

Media Reviews

"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

"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." - Booklist

"[A] study in addiction, the power of overwhelmingly persuasive marketing, and a huge social problem in America today." - Library Journal

"A compellingly investigated, relentlessly gloomy report on the drug distribution industry." - Kirkus

"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

"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

"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

"Fascinating." - Salon

"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." - Laura Miller's 10 Favorite Books of 2015, Slate

"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

"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." - Seattle Times

"Everybody should read this book. Everybody." - 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 (UK)

This information about Dreamland was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Anl

Different and positive read
A good book relating a complicated crisis. Details of how distribution networks grow. What i found refreshing about this book is instead of being slanted and politically motivated, it relates stories and situations, then goes on to feature stories of hope. The shrieking blame game is absent. Other books I tried go on in endless detail about this and that corporation,their executives, corrupt or exhausted doctors, communities struggling, etc. And by focusing on blame and “cause”, you feel the drugs are the unsolvable epidemic. This book features folks who suffered, relatives who suffered, and how these folks are trying to improve things.

Mark VanZanten

I lived it
As a retired hospice/hospital nurse during the early 2000's, I watched firsthand as the morphine molecule was used for pain relief. As a patient with fibromyalgia, I was prescribed narcotics, and know how difficult it is to quit them. I did not know of the underlying back story - nor why Portsmouth, Ohio was the Oxy-Queen of the world. I did not know a lot of things that I understand clearly now. A new Oxyconton-King family is under the microscope for lying about the drug's effects. This book helps to explain how we got to this point. I'm flabbergasted.

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Author Information

Sam Quinones

Sam Quinones is a journalist, author and storyteller whose two acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction about Mexico and Mexican immigration made him, according to the SF Chronicle Book Review, "the most original writer on Mexico and the border."

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