A profoundly disconcerting book that, with luck, will inspire reform to aid the dopesick and punish their suppliers.



Macy follows her consequential book Dopesick with another account of big pharma’s role in killing Americans and of the frontline workers who are trying to save them.

“They say we’re going to lose a generation if we don’t do something. I say we’ve already lost that generation.” So noted a West Virginian while recounting that nearly everyone in her town has been affected by the opioid crisis. Macy hits the small towns of Appalachia and the archives to deliver another damning indictment of the Sackler family, who “willfully created the opioid crisis…a murderous rampage that has victimized hundreds of thousands of people in this country.” Via their company Purdue Pharma, the Sacklers unleashed a flood of OxyContin on the market, bribed doctors to overprescribe it, and then relied on the stigma and shame attached to addiction to ward off lawsuits. When the lawsuits finally arrived, the Sacklers were prepared. “For a quarter century,” writes Macy, “the Sacklers masterminded and micromanaged a relentless marketing campaign for their killer drug, then surgically drained the company of $10 billion when they saw trouble on the horizon.” The Sacklers have since been shamed and stigmatized, their name removed from museum halls and university buildings, but they have been able to keep their money—so far, anyway. Meanwhile, in what Macy calls the “Uneven States of America,” the drug crisis continues to grow, with future substance-dependent people beginning their drug journeys, not ending them, with heroin and fentanyl. Against this epidemic stand health workers, legal reformers, and pioneering judges who have established drug courts to dispense not punishment but treatment. Then there are the conservative politicians from, ironically, the red states most likely to be awash in a flood of drugs, who remain busy “amplifying NIMBYism” to oppose needle exchanges, free clinics, homeless shelters, and other social welfare vehicles for helping the afflicted.

A profoundly disconcerting book that, with luck, will inspire reform to aid the dopesick and punish their suppliers.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-43022-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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A cogent “horror story” about the plot to reanimate mid-20th-century White male supremacy at the expense of abortion access.


Incisive look at the destructive path of anti-abortion ideology in the U.S.

Even though most Americans believe in a woman’s right to choose—“consistent research has shown that more than 7 in 10 Americans support legal access to abortion”—the radical right has succeeded in steadily eroding reproductive freedoms since Roe v. Wade. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America leaders Hogue and Langford, the campaign against abortion is but a means to an end for the architects of the pro-life movement. Their true aim is the uncontested dominion of White Christian men. The battle began in 1954, when Brown v. Board of Education struck down “state laws used by segregationists to maintain structural inequality in the nation’s schools.” In 1976, the IRS rescinded the tax-exempt status of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s segregationist Bob Jones University. What has followed, argue the authors convincingly, is more than a half-century of machinations designed “to halt progressive cultural change and maintain power for a privileged minority.” Anti-abortion rhetoric is just a weapon, driven by design, propaganda, disinformation, and cowed Republican politicians—hallmarks of the Trump era. Hogue and Langdon make a strong case that the rises of Trump, fake news, and science skepticism are not flukes but rather the culmination of a dogged campaign by forces still smarting from desegregation and second- and third-wave feminism. The reproductive freedom of American women is the victim of an “anti-democratic power grab on a historic scale.” The authors build a chilling case that the startling 2019 wave of abortion bans across the nation should serve as a canary in the coal mine for citizens concerned with democracy and a catalyst for bolder messaging, better strategic planning, and sustained action to combat disinformation.

A cogent “horror story” about the plot to reanimate mid-20th-century White male supremacy at the expense of abortion access.

Pub Date: July 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-947492-50-9

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Strong Arm Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2020

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