A stunning depiction of corruption in the drug industry and those who confronted it.



A meticulous examination of how unscrupulous drug manufacturers, aided by thousands of pharmacies and doctors, produced and concealed a public health crisis.

Higham and Horwitz, who published groundbreaking exposés of the drug industry for the Washington Post, document how American opioid manufacturers, especially Purdue Pharma, recklessly distributed billions of pain pills across the country, generating an unprecedented drug epidemic. Their account of widespread corruption does, indeed, “open a horrifying panorama on corporate greed and political cowardice” while also showing “the efforts of community activists, DEA agents, and a coalition of lawyers to stop the human carnage.” In brisk, often harrowing chapters, the authors present riveting descriptions of government investigations into the crisis, struggles to thwart those investigations by targeted corporations and their allies, and the (ongoing) courtroom proceedings that have revealed an astoundingly expansive web of negligence, greed, and callousness. Along the way, Higham and Horwitz lay bare a series of alarming facts about the institutions that fostered the epidemic, including how several opioid manufacturers exerted extraordinary influence over members of Congress, their attempts to launch public relations campaigns that undermined faith in science, and the pronounced indifference of some of their executives to the catastrophe they helped create. A particularly gripping thread of the narrative follows the heroic efforts of whistleblower Joseph T. Rannazzisi, a retired and ostracized member of the DEA who called out both the amorality of the drug industry and the inefficacy of his former employer. Also striking are the descriptions of certain loosely regulated Florida clinics, which attracted enormous and sometimes unruly crowds of clients from across the country. The authors could have offered a little more attention to the voices of epidemic victims—for that, see Beth Macy’s potent duo, Dopesick and Raising Lazarus—but they effectively acknowledge the suffering that hundreds of thousands have endured, creating an unforgettable portrait of unthinkable corporate greed and malfeasance.

A stunning depiction of corruption in the drug industry and those who confronted it.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5387-3720-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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