Dreamland - Sam Quinones


By Sam Quinones

  • Release Date: 2015-04-21
  • Genre: Social Science
4.5 Score: 4.5 (From 157 Ratings)


Winner of the NBCC Award for General Nonfiction

Named on Amazon's Best Books of the Year 2015--Michael Botticelli, U.S. Drug Czar (Politico) Favorite Book of the Year--Angus Deaton, Nobel Prize Economics (Bloomberg/WSJ) Best Books of 2015--Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky (WSJ) Books of the Year--Slate.com's 10 Best Books of 2015--Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2015 --Buzzfeed's 19 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015--The Daily Beast's Best Big Idea Books of 2015--Seattle Times' Best Books of 2015--Boston Globe's Best Books of 2015--St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Books of 2015--The Guardian's The Best Book We Read All Year--Audible's Best Books of 2015--Texas Observer's Five Books We Loved in 2015--Chicago Public Library's Best Nonfiction Books of 2015

From a small town in Mexico to the boardrooms of Big Pharma to main streets nationwide, an explosive and shocking account of addiction in the heartland of America.

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America--addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland.

With a great reporter's narrative skill and the storytelling ability of a novelist, acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma's campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive--extremely addictive--miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin--cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico's west coast, independent of any drug cartel--assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.

Introducing a memorable cast of characters--pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents--Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.


  • Dreamland

    By Purebull
    Well written, well researched book. The author weaves the connections between prescription pain drugs and illicit use of heroin. Distribution by low key dealers of heroin to the abuse of prescription pain medication by the medical/industrial complex.
  • Poor editing

    By Bogey 821
    On balance his reporting is good. But he does get very preachy at the end. It’s as if he knows his mainstream media readers expect it. He almost can’t help himself. And good grief man, employ an editor. The book was obviously put together from feature stories and notes he wrote over the years. But is it too much to ask to edit some of the background and stories so I don’t have to read them multiple times. He is a little too sympathetic to the Mexicans but he honestly reports on their motivation. The pill mills and Purdue’s motivation is just good old fashion greed. In fact the confluence of greed, addiction, and the vanishing rust belt economy was a recipe for disaster. The medical establishment has some blame as well. Although their intentions were good (finding safer ways to relieve chronic pain) their due diligence was seriously lacking in breadth.
  • Amazing research on this epidemic

    By Td1179
    I am truly amazed by this book. As someone who has been touched by this unfortunate opiate epidemic, I often asked myself how did this happen and why was I so blindsided by it? This recounting is almost a reconciliation in the fact that we can all be taken at our most vulnerable moments. I was so happy to see that in the end, we truly are all responsible for our communities. Whether you are an addict or not, I think this author shows us that being human means standing up against an enemy who threatens your community with passion and forgiveness.
  • Dreamland is very informative

    By Balleyman
    Great book. Halfway through it at the moment. Really helps understand how the opiate addiction leading to heroin got started. Talks about the Pharma's role and abuse of power. Doctors roles in overprescribing for pain relief and especially lots of details on the supply chain of black tar heroin from Mexico and how the distribution chains work in the US. I bought Kindle edition for just a little over $7. Sorry ITunes. You're too bad expensive much of the time though I like how iBooks works better than Kindle.
  • Dreamland

    By Jack Manx
    This was a very interesting book. I learned a lot.
  • Dreamland

    By Jakeshuman2
    This is truly a good non-fiction story. It has love and hate, good and evil, destruction and a kind of redemption. It is a story of corporate greed and how it affects Main Street America and the unintended consequences of trying to ease human pain. Most of all it is about where good intentions and the path to Hell often intersect.