Timely, depressing, engrossing reportage on an issue that can’t receive too much attention.

DEATH IN MUD LICK

A COAL COUNTRY FIGHT AGAINST THE DRUG COMPANIES THAT DELIVERED THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC

A Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter delivers his entry in the (sadly) growing literature about the opioid epidemic ravaging the country.

As a reporter at the small-circulation Charleston Gazette-Mail in Charleston, West Virginia, Eyre won the Pulitzer for his writing on the huge shipments of opioids entering his region and how opioid manufacturers, wholesale distributors, and unethical doctors and pharmacists combined to put fatal doses of the dangerous painkillers into the hands of desperate patients. There have been numerous recent books about the opioid crisis—readers can’t go wrong with Sam Quinones’ Dreamland, Beth Macy’s Dopesick, or Chris McGreal’s American Overdose—and Eyre covers some of the same ground. However, what distinguishes his book is the author’s emphasis on the massive but nearly anonymous wholesale distributors Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson, among others. Those companies shipped millions of pills to small-town pharmacies that never could have needed such volumes; for instance Kermit, which has a population of less than 400 and was “drowning in prescription painkillers.” Eyre clearly explains how the Drug Enforcement Administration and the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy could have ameliorated the flood of pills but did nothing. Another powerful actor who enabled the epidemic was West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, a Republican politician who lied about his involvement and failed to recuse himself while his wife received payment from Cardinal Health as a lobbyist. While battling for disclosures via freedom of information lawsuits in the courts, Eyre located numerous victims of the indiscriminate pill shipments, including many users who had buried multiple family members and friends after they overdosed. Unsurprisingly, his accounts of his interactions with them are disturbing, moving, and heart-wrenching. Portions of the narrative feature first-person narration, as the author illuminates how time-consuming, budget-busting investigative journalism functions despite circumstances that mitigate against it. The drama ratchets up as Eyre battles early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

Timely, depressing, engrossing reportage on an issue that can’t receive too much attention.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0531-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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