Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

by Sam Quinones


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2015 National Book Critics Circle Award Winner for Nonfiction

In fascinating detail, Sam Quinones chronicles how, over the past 15 years, enterprising sugar cane farmers in a small county on the west coast of Mexico created a unique distribution system that brought black tar heroin—the cheapest, most addictive form of the opiate, 2 to 3 times purer than its white powder cousin—to the veins of people across the United States. Communities where heroin had never been seen before—from Charlotte, NC and Huntington, WVA, to Salt Lake City and Portland, OR—were overrun with it. Local police and residents were stunned. How could heroin, long considered a drug found only in the dense, urban environments along the East Coast, and trafficked into the United States by enormous Colombian drug cartels, be so incredibly ubiquitous in the American heartland? Who was bringing it here, and perhaps more importantly, why were so many townspeople suddenly eager for the comparatively cheap high it offered?

With the same dramatic drive of El Narco and Methland, Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of American capitalism: The stories of young men in Mexico, independent of the drug cartels, in search of their own American Dream via the fast and enormous profits of trafficking cheap black-tar heroin to America’s rural and suburban addicts; and that of Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Connecticut, determined to corner the market on pain with its new and expensive miracle drug, Oxycontin; extremely addictive in its own right. Quinones illuminates just how these two stories fit together as cause and effect: hooked on costly Oxycontin, American addicts were lured to much cheaper black tar heroin and its powerful and dangerous long-lasting high. Embroiled alongside the suppliers and buyers are DEA agents, local, small-town sheriffs, and the US attorney from eastern Virginia whose case against Purdue Pharma and Oxycontin made him an enemy of the Bush-era Justice Department, ultimately stalling and destroying his career in public service.

Dreamland is a scathing and incendiary account of drug culture and addiction spreading to every part of the American landscape.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620402504
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 04/21/2015
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

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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Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gives insight on the epidemic of opiates invading our homes our children and this Country. The secrets that are finally waking up our society and fighting against addiction. Addiction is a disease and we need more support for our addicts.
WorldReader1111 More than 1 year ago
'Dreamland' is, in my opinion, an exceptional piece of literature, as to earn it a rare five-star rating from me. The book is, first, very well-written, with effective formatting and a clear, poignant voice. Likewise, the text's many threads are woven into an intelligent and engaging narrative, in time combining into a collective mosaic that's greater than the sum of its parts. Furthermore, 'Dreamland' is written with heart, objectivity, and focus; the author manages to capture the opiate issue's many sides and perspectives, while remaining largely impartial and inclusive. Plus, the book is extensively researched, with much of the source material coming from firsthand fieldwork on the author's part (rather than, say, information "recycled" from public records or a Google search). From a literary perspective, the book is polished and successful, as well as relevant, sober, and easy to read -- a feat in itself, as it were. However, the book is just as substantial in content, for 'Dreamland' is far more than an account of the North American opiate epidemic. Rather, the book touches on a great many individual subjects, either by association or contextual necessity, and every one of them is as important, raw, and fascinating as the opiate issue (or, so they were for me). In the end, 'Dreamland' touches on the whole of the human experience, more or less, from economics to history to psychology to ethics, to the physical to the emotional to the institutional, from the big to the small, the hopeless to the hopeful -- all brimming with worldly knowledge and practical lessons, if read with the right eye. In my case, I especially enjoyed the dissection of the nature of pain itself, and the chapters detailing the Xalisco dealers' side of things (which, for me, broadened my perspective without being distorted or overly sympathetic, as to facilitate true understanding). In the book's exhaustive examinations, we are treated to much food-for-thought; though, if there's one takeaway in this regard, it is the ultimate complexity of the USA's drug issues. When seen in total, the book paints a tricky picture of the situation, in which the responsibility is so distributed and so widely shared, and the intentions so often good (if not very well planned), and the consequences so obscure and nuanced as to be largely unforeseen, that it's very hard to point a finger at any one culprit (at least, without that blame somehow, in some measure, returning to oneself). Our general responsibility is, perhaps, indirect and undesired, as to be innocent in intention if not result; but, we remain responsible, all the same. Once I'd finished 'Dreamland,' I felt truly informed, on myself and the greater world as much as the book's overt subject matter. My sincere thanks goes out to this book's author, subjects, and publisher. I am grateful for, and have benefited from, your work and service.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should be required reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dreamland painted a dark portion of our history very well. It is so discouraging to think that this pizza delivery model of heroin/ black tar remains so prevalent. What a horrific problem to confront ! It was described very well. Now all communities must work together to educate the public and to eradicate black tar so our citizens can be more normal and our children's brains can develop correctly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well done highly recommend