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What to expect

<h2>Winner of the 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction</h2>
One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2021
Goodreads Choice Awards 2021: Winner, Memoir & Autobiography

Empire of Pain is the story of a dynasty: a parable of 21st century greed.

‘Magnificent . . . A masterpiece of storytelling’ Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday ‘Books of the Year’

‘If you haven’t read it already, you really should. I’ve been thinking about it nonstop ever since I finished it.’ Malcolm Gladwell

The gripping and shocking story of three generations of the Sackler family and their roles in the stories of Valium, Oxycontin and the opioid crisis.

The Sackler family is one of the richest in the world, and their name adorns the walls of many famous institutions – Harvard; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Oxford; the Louvre. The source of the family fortune was vague, until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing Oxycontin, a blockbuster painkiller that was a catalyst for the opioid crisis – an international epidemic of drug addiction which has killed nearly half a million people.

In this masterpiece of narrative reporting and writing, award-winning journalist and host of the Wind of Change podcast Patrick Radden Keefe exhaustively documents the jaw-dropping and ferociously compelling reality.

Shortlisted for the 2021 Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

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Praise for Empire of Pain:

‘More compelling, more character driven, and more capacious than any novel I have read this year.’ – Sara Collins

‘It’s superbly written, exhaustively researched, full of fierce moral resolve, jaw-droppingly revealing, and above all propulsively readable. More than a match for any novel, and I think a future classic.’ – Andrew Holgate, Literary Editor, Sunday Times, chair of the Baillie Gifford judges, 2022

‘Jaw-dropping . . . Beggars belief’ – Sunday Times

‘You feel almost guilty for enjoying it so much’ – The Times

‘A page-turner with a villainous family to rival the Roys in Succession, and one where every chapter ends with the perfect bombshell’ – Esquire

‘This is unflinching reporting of a story that will grip and disturb you.’ – Evening Standard

‘A chilling and mesmerizing read, “substantially built on the family’s own words”. Which is what makes it so damning.’ – Observer

‘Magnificent’ – Guardian
‘Damning’ – Daily Mail
‘A tour de force’ – Financial Times
‘Superb’ – Spectator
‘Excellent’ – Economist

Critics Review

  • Keefe’s narration—measured, evocative, and consistent—employs just the slightest bit of indignation and irony over the health-care crises that have plagued the U.S. due to the potency and powerful addictiveness of these medications. The highly detailed work casts a spotlight on the Sackler-invented approach, begun in the 1950s, of aggressively marketing medications directly to physicians. Keefe’s polished presentation adds to this eye-opening listen.

    AudioFile
  • There are so many “they did what?” moments in this book, when your jaw practically hits the page

    Sunday Times
  • This is no dense medical tome, but a page-turner with a villainous family to rival the Roys in Succession, and one where every chapter ends with the perfect bombshell.

    Esquire
  • The story of the Sacklers and OxyContin is a parable of the modern era of philanthropy being deployed to burnish the reputations of financiers and entrepreneurs . . . [A] tour-de-force

    Financial Times
  • Put simply, this book will make your blood boil . . . a devastating portrait of a family consumed by greed and unwilling to take the slightest responsibility or show the least sympathy for what it wrought . . . a highly readable and disturbing narrative.

    New York Times Book Review
  • An engrossing (and frequently enraging) tale of striving, secrecy and self-delusion . . . Even when detailing the most sordid episodes, Keefe’s narrative voice is calm and admirably restrained, allowing his prodigious reporting to speak for itself. His portrait of the family is all the more damning for its stark lucidity.

    New York Times

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