peteg's blog

Sam Quinones: Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic.

/noise/books | Link

Kindle. The New York Times reported that it won an award, alongside Beatty for The Sellout. This is a fine piece of investigative journalism that needed a sterner editor. Quinone tells the story of how "heartland" America got addicted to heroin, via the gateway painkiller OxyContin (I now understand the drug spam) and cognates, and the Mexican suppliers from Xalisco, Nayarit. The latter was my main reason for picking this up: a vertically-integrated transnational operation with a built-in conflict resolution mechanism is a little bit fascinating. (Everyone knows everyone back home, so cheating and violence can lead to severe repercussions for loved ones.) It is amazing that they can engage in non-lethal competition in a traditionally ultraviolent enterprise; for instance, the various cells apparently lend drugs to each other when supplies are low, and just-in-time deliveries (etc) keep their activities below the excitement threshold of the DEA and friends. So this is somehow a free market of drugs (decreasing prices, consistent and high purity, convenient service, robust) that has avoided capitalism's antinomies thus far. But of course profits are huge and the markets are still expanding.

I now also understand what a pill mill is, and why Paul Le Roux got into it. I just wish the text had been half as long.