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Publisher's Summary

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 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.

©2021 Patrick Radden Keefe (P)2021 Penguin Randomhouse LLC

Critic Reviews

"One of the most anticipated books of this spring." (Washington Post)

"Put simply, this book will make your blood boil...Keefe...paints 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." (John Carreyrou, author of Bad Blood, in the New York Times)

"Jaw-dropping.... Beggars belief." (Sunday Times)

"You feel almost guilty for enjoying it so much." (The Times)

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What listeners say about Empire of Pain

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Fantastic book

Fascinating read, meticulously researched and shines a light on the shameful legacy of the Sackler family. The author does a great job narrating as well. Highly reccomended!

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Fascinating and impressive

Careful and meticulous reporting makes this story of corporate greed and personal indifference to suffering both fascinating and horrifying. Very impressive.

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astute and relevant

Recommended by John Oliver and I absolutely loved it. Just the right balance of personal stories and facts. So very relevant in the current political climate. The author is an excellent narrator. His tone and cadence adds weight and solemnity to the topic without adding hysteria or derision.

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Fascinating - thank you to the author

Such an important story to tell. I didn’t expect to learn so much about pharmaceutical advertising, corporate obfuscation and government failings.

This is a very important book I hope lawmakers are also reading.

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A frightening testimony on the power of money

A fascinating and terrifying story. Clear and easy to follow. Patrick Radden Keefe has once again created an unputdownable account of the shadow powers that control and influence all our lives. The focus of his attention is essential to help us make our world a safer and more transparent place.

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Pain killers

Fantastic book and well written.
Such a massive addiction issue but thanks for the well documented evidence.
Addiction out of control worldwide

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Superb

This is an amazing story told by a master storyteller in search of the truth.

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Great and insightful listen!!

An exceptionally researched and engaging listen. Gives great insight into the drivers behind the opioid crisis gripping not just America but countries worldwide, as well as exposing those who've benefited on the back of such an epidemic!!

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Cannot fault this book - loved every second

Fascinating, engaging, meticulous - I was absolutely hooked from start to finish. Now going to check out more of PRK’s writing...

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Shocking but not surprising

An historical examination of the Sackler family and the way in which their business practices, corruption and greed have influenced the prescribing of OxyContin. It provides a fascinating insight into the regulatory conditions (or lack of by comparison to Australia where I am based) in the USA that to a large extent enabled this, eg advertising prescription medication directly to patients.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-05-2021

HBO?Netflix?Award-winning movie/limitedseries?

Brilliant! Needs to be shared on more platforms! Some Sackler descendant/movie producer must be interested...

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  • Edward Fisher
  • 01-05-2021

I know it’s clichéd but, “If you read one book this year.....”

Illuminating, Jaw-dropping and unremittingly brilliant in its forensic account of the drug-induced catastrophe that plagued America. Reading this as a Brit who was aware but in no way fully cognisant of the enormous scale of the problem in the U.S. this book provided an invaluable insight into some of the darker practices and opportunities that present themselves within American corporate culture. A sobering but extremely rewarding account.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-05-2021

Extremely interesting background and perspective

As someone who had a family member addicted to heroin, I was always very interested to learn how a pharma company had effectively managed to legalise the sale of heroin/addictive opioids in the US and demonstrably create a generation of addicts who’s lives and family’s lives have been destroyed.

It is so disheartening to learn that they had the information and the power to make changes but that greed was overtook any sense of moral compulsion.

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  • amberannie
  • 03-05-2021

A must read

Thank you to Patrick and his team for this book, a must read for anyone seeking to understand how this scourge happened and the players responsible.
An extremely important story that needed to be told, and as so many players are involved in a way a lay person can comprehend.
That has been accomplished.
I am to the depths of my soul sadden and totally outraged by the behaviour of the Sacklers. I urge you to read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-06-2021

Exceptional. Meticulous research, brilliantly told

“Watching you testify makes my blood boil. I’m not sure that I’m aware of any family in America that’s more evil than yours.”

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-06-2021

Insightful, gripping and unbelievable

I couldn't stop listening. Exceptional reporting and investigative journalism! Everyone should read or listen to this book!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-06-2021

Superb

Investigative journalism at its best. Authoritative, lifting the lid on corporate corruption enabled by the most corrupt legal and political system in the western world.

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  • Mrs. L. I. Taylor
  • 08-06-2021

Shocking account of greed

This is an important book which chronicles the unrestrained pursuit of profit over many years. The behaviour of the characters is shocking, in.particular the indifference to the suffering, and the greed. It also makes one wonder how the defence lawyers can sleep at night. The author has done a great job of marshalling the facts from an overwhelming body of records.

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  • Barry
  • 06-06-2021

making money out of pain

A story which needed to be told. Immigrant family works hard to be successful. Ends up making money out of provision of pain relief medication with major negative impacts for many who took it. Got caught up in a cycle of money making and appear to have divorced themselves from any sense of responsibility for negative impact of what they did. There is a sense that justice has not been delivered. But, while one extended family made billions of profits, many others collaborated to facilitate what transpired and not clear that they will be held responsible either. Opiod crisis a tragedy - millions addicted, hundreds of thousands dead. Whatever safeguards exist in society have failed it. Has society learned any lessons or will this continue or be followed by similar scenarios playing out?

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  • Clara Esposito Pahissa
  • 25-05-2021

captivating

absolutely loved this book. so well researched and put together, I could not stop listening

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  • Everycloudhasa
  • 23-05-2021

A stunning work & great performance

Absolutely absorbing book told in great depth, and always very engaging. Wonderfully read by the author.

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