the next good book

Empire of Pain

By Patrick Radden Keefe


441 pages

Empire of Pain What’s it about? This book is a detailed account of the three Sackler brothers who rose out of poverty during the Great Depression to build a fortune. The Sackler family accumulated great wealth, became philanthropists, and ultimately helped to create the opioid crisis in America. What did it make me think about? This book made me think about several very different issues.  First, the huge amount of strategy, cunning, and effort it took to accumulate this kind of wealth.  Once the family had wealth; how they chose to use it to their advantage under the guise of philanthropy.   The ability that most people have to believe the narrative that best serves their own purposes.  And of course- how the Sackler family helped to create an Opioid crisis in America. Should I read it? Patrick Radden Keefe has written a fascinating account of how one family accumulated generational wealth, and what that wealth allowed them to do. * On a side note- after the publishing of this book there was a new ruling by a judge in Manhattan that overturns the bankruptcy settlement that many people felt protected the Sackler family.  Story to be continued…. Quote- “There was probably a moment early on, when the Sackler family could have chosen to respond differently to the unfolding crisis surrounding OxyContin.  The family could have paused the aggressive marketing of the drug, halting the quest to secure new customers.  They could have acknowledged that there was a major problem brewing and that the company’s own marketing efforts might have played a role in sparking it.  There was a strange disconnect: the family and the company had been very explicit, in the initial planning phases for the launch of OxyContin, about the degree to which success would be contingent on an ability to change the mind of the American medical establishment about the dangers of prescribing strong opioids.  This effort was successful.  To a degree that must have surprised even the Sacklers, their company had initiated a sea change.”

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