Highly sobering, exemplary reportage delivered through richly detailed scenarios and diversified perspectives.

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FENTANYL, INC.

HOW ROGUE CHEMISTS ARE CREATING THE DEADLIEST WAVE OF THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC

How a lethal synthetic opioid and its manufacturer is creating a global drug addiction crisis.

In 2013, investigative journalist Westhoff (Original Gangstas: Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and the Birth of West Coast Rap, 2016) began researching potently addictive street drugs, and he learned about Fentanyl and other “novel psychoactive substances” while writing about “why so many people were dying at raves.” The author describes Fentanyl and synthetic drugs (including K2 and Spice) as formerly medically sound panaceas whose formulas were hijacked and re-created with unpredictable potencies and physical effects. The staggering statistics he presents tell a much darker tale, as he shows how Fentanyl-laced cocaine and other new psychoactive substances are killing thousands of people. In order to uncover the origin of the epidemic and the epic race to develop effective deterrent systems, the author seamlessly blends past and present in his profiles of Belgian chemist Paul Janssen, who was responsible for Fentanyl’s initial development in 1959; police officers; politicians; LSD drug kingpins, and St. Louis street dealers. While promising, the harm-reduction initiatives remain diluted beneath the shifting weight and influence of political red tape, global capitalism, and the biological and psychological bondage of drug dependency. Perhaps most compelling is Westhoff’s undercover infiltration of several rogue Chinese drug operations. Some operate covertly, while others are blatantly transparent since China offers subsidies to companies manufacturing and distributing Fentanyl components. Also fascinating is the author’s charting of Fentanyl’s circulation from darknet marketplaces to overseas postal stops to regional distribution. While international interceptive efforts like “Operation Denial” have helped in the apprehension of the upper echelon of major distributors, they have failed to collar Fentanyl trafficking network kingpin Jian Zhang, who is believed to be largely responsible for the steady flow of the drug into the global market. Drawing material from official reports, drug databases, scores of interviews, and years of personal research, Westhoff presents an unflinching, illuminating portrait of a festering crisis involving a drug industry that thrives as effectively as it kills.

Highly sobering, exemplary reportage delivered through richly detailed scenarios and diversified perspectives.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2743-3

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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