Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty
By Patrick Radden Keefe
Why this book?
This may well be the best book ever written on a corporate scandal. Just out, I expect to see it on prize lists for this year. Keefe weaves together three independently fascinating stories in seamless, brilliant, and deeply researched fashion: a 20th-century immigrant American dynastic family (the Sacklers), the emergence of the modern pharmaceutical industry, and the opioid disaster. His eye for the smoking gun document or telling admission is as good as his eye for irony and the many darkly humorous connections in this saga. The book gets better as it goes on, all the way to the end, where he takes the reader carefully through the thoroughly dispiriting story of the legal system’s handling of Purdue Pharma’s involvement in the opioid market. This book made my blood boil—and I am usually the one trying to explain why accountability is harder to impose than most people think.
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