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UNSETTLED

HOW THE PURDUE PHARMA BANKRUPTCY FAILED THE VICTIMS OF THE AMERICAN OVERDOSE CRISIS

A passionate, well-informed insider’s account of one of the most controversial bankruptcies in U.S. history.

An opioid-victims’ advocate vents his fury about the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy that allowed the Sackler family to avoid prison and keep most of their fortune.

Several years into his recovery from opioid addiction, Hampton had a modest knowledge of the law when the Department of Justice appointed him to the official Unsecured Creditors Committee in the Purdue bankruptcy case. He soon became co-chair of the nine-member group, which included four private citizens as well as institutional heavyweights like CVS Pharmacy and which had a fiduciary duty to thousands of claimants against Purdue. The author combines the sarcasm of an early Bill Bryson travelogue with the disbelief of Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in this breezy but informative memoir of his falling down a rabbit hole of negotiation, mediation, and Zoom calls as he pushed for a fair shake for victims. Many of his frustrations involved the Sacklers’ army of nuclear-strength law firms like Jones Day, “the firm that had previously represented such stand-up characters as the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the bin Laden family.” Other maddening setbacks involved cash grabs by states that hadn’t spent much of the federal money they’d already received to fight the opioid crisis, power plays that deprived victims of urgently needed financial help. Hampton finds it small comfort that Purdue ultimately pleaded guilty to multiple felonies and agreed to pay about $750 million to victims, or up to $48,000 per death from a Purdue product. “This wasn’t a bankruptcy,” writes the author, “it was a heist.” Hampton recaps some of the background on the opioid crisis found in stellar books such as Chris McGreal’s American Overdose and Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain, but he offers a unique firsthand perspective on a bankruptcy he credibly portrays as yet another injustice to Purdue’s victims.

A passionate, well-informed insider’s account of one of the most controversial bankruptcies in U.S. history.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-27316-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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