Empire of Pain
Winner of the 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction
A Barack Obama 2021 Summer reading list choice
Empire of Pain is the story of a dynasty: a parable of 21st century greed.
‘Put simply, this book will make your blood boil . . . ‘ - John Carreyrou, author of Bad Blood
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
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
A work of nonfiction that has the dramatic scope and moral power of a Victorian novel . . . A gripping tale of capitalism at its most innovative and ruthless that Keefe tells with a masterful grasp of the material.
There are so many "they did what?" moments in this book, when your jaw practically hits the page
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.