Solid reporting, good storytelling, wide lens to this narrative. It's really a contemporary history of Middle American working class: blue collar without a reason to get dressed for work. Excellent on the larger forces in play, why the American myth is psychological rather than sociological, meaning, whatever happens, we see only personal responsibility.
I enjoyed listening to this tale. Last year I actually took a train to some of the towns mentioned in this story (towns so rural my gps listed 15 of the top 25 points of interest as cemetaries). The narration was perfect, and I estimate that 85% of the writing was perfect, too. But approximately 15% of it digressed pointlessly, and that's why I only give this 4 out of 5 stars. Still, the tale was entertaining and sometimes educational.
Nick Reding has a nice literary style, which I appreciate in a non-fiction book as it makes for less dry reading. That's one of the redeeming qualities of this book, which was interesting but frankly didn't really bring that much insight to the table. Okay, meth is bad, we all know that. And drug addiction is horrible, drug cartels are evil and dangerous, and poverty tends to breed despair and thus drug use. These are all well-known facts and true of every addictive drug and every drug "epidemic." But color me skeptical when I'm told that this generation's drug is yet another incarnation of the WORST DRUG EVER IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND!
Reding goes into the history of meth and traces the rise of meth as a small town drug that is symbolic of the woes of Middle America by tying it to one town in particular: Oelwein, Iowa. He takes a sample of individual real-life characters -- the optimistic but beleaguered mayor, the pragmatic and cynical prosecutor, the alcoholic doctor, and of course, various dealers and addicts -- to personalize the effects of meth on this town. The stories are interesting but nothing we haven't heard before. Likewise, the rise of the Mexican Mafia is just a reprise of the Colombian cocaine cartels in the 80s. Once again, ham-handed legislation tainted by lobbyist influence managed only to strengthen the hold that organized crime has on the trade.
The connection to globalization and poverty is there, but I think it's a weaker part of Reding's narrative, particularly when he veers into agribusiness consolidation. This represents a whole host of problems afflicting the American heartland, and meth is just one piece of it, more a side effect than a root cause.
I found the book interesting and Reding's storytelling quite adequate, but it seemed like there was quite a bit of filler to pad it out to a full-length book. The Oelwein sections themselves were only part of the book.
This isn't a bad book or even a particularly flawed one, and certainly it increases understanding of the specifics of the drug methamphetamine. But I didn't find it to be ground-breaking, nor wholly convincing in its thesis that meth is the worst!drug!ever! and that the loss of American farming and blue collar jobs is responsible for the problem.
Business Physicist and Astronomer
I enjoyed this book and I learned a lot from it. good read.
My ONLY complaint is that the author seems to attribute all "meth" use to the loss of well paying jobs and sadly that's not the case. There are issues of character that enter into the pattern of drug abuse. I'm sorry, but there are.
Not everyone who falls into the drug trap goes by way of poverty and despair. Many (most?) have mental (physical) and character issues. The choice to USE a drug precedes addiction.
So, yes, great book but a little bit too much blame placed on bad corporations.
Holy moly Mama !
How "ordinary" everything seemed to be. I have my head in the sand !
Haven't listened to any but need to check him out.
Get your head out of the sand.
It was great !!!!!!!!1
My hats off to Nick Reding. Very well researched book. It's about time somebody wrote the truth about a drug that has took the USA like a plague! Any more its not who's on this horrible drug,but who is'nt.Meth is destroying lives and family's daily! Sure wish their were more real people like Nick out their! Great job, keep up the good work,hope to see more of your writings in the future. This novel really hit's HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, but only to be read on a larger scale than just meth.
Sorta falls off without much closure.
50% of the book was very good. The other 50% was about big industry ruining middle America, and not even about meth. It's worth listening to but, I would not rush to listen to it.
If you are looking for an in depth study of meth use in America, this is not for you. However this is a very good study about the decline of middle class Americans in the Mid-west.
I have not read the printed version so I can not compare the two.
This is a non-fiction book.
This book is a very interesting non-fiction account of Meth on a small town in America. It also shows surprising connections between big business and the meth epidemic.
I mostly listen to books while exercising, which pretty much explains all of the action/thrillers on my list.
This is not new news, but it is a good in-depth look at the world of Meth and its purveyors and users. Most will not be surprised by the part played by big pharma and it's supporters in keeping the drugs flowing. And the portrayal of the poverty and desperation in the mid-West is pretty crushing. But there are also some really inspiring characters who are hanging in there in those small towns keeping them going and trying to take them back from that despair. And it was heartening to meet them.
The narration is not really that bad either, but it really bothers me when people don't bother to find out how things should be pronounced. This guy mis-pronounces "Willamette" about fifty times and since I am from the Pacific Northwest, each of them was likes nails on a blackboard.
Narrator was very good. Book was more interesting than first thought it would be.
The book was full of fact and stories about geniune people. It kept me wanting to find out what happened in their lives.
First time hearing this narrator and he did an excellent job.