The gripping and shocking story of three generations of the Sackler family and their roles in the stories of Valium and Oxycontin, by the prize-winning, bestselling author of Say Nothing.
The Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions – Harvard; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Oxford; the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, known for their lavish donations in the arts and the sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, 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, Patrick Radden Keefe exhaustively documents the jaw-dropping and ferociously compelling reality. Empire of Pain is the story of a dynasty: a parable of 21st century greed.
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. -- John Carreyrou, author of Bad Blood ― 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. -- Jennifer Szalai ― New York Times
A true tragedy in multiple acts. It is the story of a family that lost its moorings and its morals . . . Written with novelistic family-dynasty and family-dynamic sweep, Empire of Pain is a pharmaceutical Forsythe Saga, a book that in its way is addictive, with a page-turning forward momentum. -- David M. Shribman ― Boston Globe
Explosive . . . Keefe marshals a large pile of evidence and deploys it with prosecutorial precision . . . Keefe is a gifted storyteller who excels at capturing personalities. ― Washington Post
A brutal, multigenerational treatment of the Sackler family -- Brian Mann ― NPR.org
An air-tight indictment of the family behind the opioid crisis . . . [an] impressive exposé -- Harriet Ryan ― Los Angeles Times
A damning portrait of the Sacklers, the billionaire clan behind the OxyContin epidemic . . . [Keefe] has a knack for crafting lucid, readable descriptions of the sort of arcane business arrangements the Sacklers favored. -- Laura Miller ― Slate
Keefe has a way of making the inaccessible incredibly digestible, of morphing complex stories into page-turning thrillers, and he's done it again with Empire of Pain . . . A scathing ― but meticulously reported ― takedown of the extended family behind OxyContin. It's equal parts juicy society gossip and historical record of how they built their dynasty and eventually pushed Oxy onto the market. -- Seija Rankin ― Entertainment Weekly
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
About the Author
Patrick Radden Keefe is an award-winning staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, as well as two previous critically-acclaimed books, The Snakehead, and Chatter. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 2015 and 2016, and also received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He grew up in Boston and now lives in New York.