The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth (Hardcover)
From the New York Times bestselling author of Dreamland, a searing follow-up that explores the terrifying next stages of the opioid epidemic and the quiet yet ardent stories of community repair.
Sam Quinones traveled from Mexico to main streets across the U.S. to create Dreamland, a groundbreaking portrait of the opioid epidemic that awakened the nation. As the nation struggled to put back the pieces, Quinones was among the first to see the dangers that lay ahead: synthetic drugs and a new generation of kingpins whose product could be made in Magic Bullet blenders. In fentanyl, traffickers landed a painkiller a hundred times more powerful than morphine. They laced it into cocaine, meth, and counterfeit pills to cause tens of thousands of deaths-at the same time as Mexican traffickers made methamphetamine cheaper and more potent than ever, creating, Sam argues, swaths of mental illness and a surge in homelessness across the United States.
Quinones hit the road to investigate these new threats, discovering how addiction is exacerbated by consumer-product corporations. “In a time when drug traffickers act like corporations and corporations like traffickers,” he writes, “our best defense, perhaps our only defense, lies in bolstering community.” Amid a landscape of despair, Quinones found hope in those embracing the forgotten and ignored, illuminating the striking truth that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable.
Weaving analysis of the drug trade into stories of humble communities, The Least of Us delivers an unexpected and awe-inspiring response to the call that shocked the nation in Sam Quinones's award-winning Dreamland.
“Sam Quinones is the indispensable ground-level guide to the epidemics of addiction that plague so many Americans. In The Least of Us, the tales of despair are brightened by seeing communities beginning to adapt and regrow to fight the horror that besets them. Everyone should read this.” —Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate in Economics and co-author of DEATHS OF DESPAIR
“With deep compassion and piercing insight, Sam Quinones beautifully captures the pain of America's opioid addiction and the gaping holes in society that allowed the tragedy to fester. He then not only offers condemnation of how we got here but true hope of how we can get out.” —Ioan Grillo, author of BLOOD GUN MONEY
“With The Least of Us, Sam Quinones continues to be the preeminent chronicler of the national opioid epidemic. By combining rigorous research, keen insight and listening to people's stories across the country, Sam has once again captured not only the pain and sadness but the resiliency and optimism that have come to be the hallmark of this epidemic.” —Michael Botticelli, Former Director, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
“Journalist Quinones follows Dreamland with a sweeping portrait of the destruction wrought by pharmaceutical companies, Mexican cartels, and other drug profiteers, and an inspirational call for a renewed sense of community to combat the isolation of addiction . . . This is a richly rewarding report from the front lines of an ongoing emergency.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Readers looking for the latest take on the drug trade and recovery as well as those who flock to well written journalism will dig into this.” —Booklist
“In a follow-up to his widely acclaimed Dreamland, Quinones explores the fentanyl and meth crisis sweeping the U.S. while at the same time spotlighting the moments of hope and community that keep us going. From the wreckage of ruined lives come stories of faith, trust and belief in our fellow humans.” —Newsweek
“Over the last 15 years, he has filed the best dispatches about Mexican migration and its effects on the United States and Mexico, bar none.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review, on DREAMLAND
“[A] compelling examination . . . a driven and important narrative.” —Wall Street Journal, on DREAMLAND
“Quinones' research ensures that there is something legitimately interesting (and frequently horrifying) on every page.” —Entertainment Weekly, on DREAMLAND
“Dreamland is at once a heartbreaking narrative about the individuals in the grips of addiction, and a thorough history of how that addiction was made possible by a variety of key players . . . a must-read for anyone grappling with the story of heroin addiction in the United States.” —Bustle, on DREAMLAND
“Quinones recounts individual tales - from junkies in Portland, Ore., to pill mills in Appalachia to entrepreneurial heroin traffickers from small-town Mexico - to describe a “catastrophic synergy” in which over-prescription of opioid painkillers begets addicts, many of whom then turn to heroin, which is cheaper and just as ubiquitous.” —Boston Globe, DREAMLAND included in Best Books of 2015
“You won't find this story told better anywhere else, from the economic hollowing-out of the middle class to the greedy and reckless marketing of pharmaceutical opiates to the remarkable entrepreneurial industry of the residents of the obscure Mexican state of Nayarit . . . Dreamland--true crime, sociology, and exposé--illuminates a catastrophe unfolding all around us, right now.” —Slate, on DREAMLAND
“The most original writer on Mexico and the border out there.” —San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, on DREAMLAND
“Former Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Quinones deftly recounts how a flood of prescription pain meds, along with black tar heroin from Nayarit, Mexico, transformed the once-vital blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, and other American communities into heartlands of addiction. With prose direct yet empathic, he interweaves the stories of Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics agents, and small-town folks whose lives were upended by the deluge of drugs, leaving them shaking their heads, wondering how they could possibly have resisted” —Mother Jones, on DREAMLAND