Dear Great Book Guru, As May comes to a close, I am preparing for a strong summer of reading. I’d like to start with some non-fiction. What do you think is the best piece of non-fiction you have read this year? Strolling into Summer
Dear Strolling into Summer, I have no problem choosing this one: EMPIRE OF PAIN by Patrick Radden Keefe, author of SAY NOTHING, another GBG pick. Keefe writes about the Sackler family and how their dynasty changed the world forever. In exquisite detail, Keefe recounts their history from 1930’s Brooklyn, to Creedmoor Psychiatric Hospital in Queens, to palatial mansions here and abroad. Arthur, Mortimer, and Raymond are the three brothers whose lives, wives, children, and grandchildren populate this book. Known for their lavish gifts to the Metropolitan Museum (think Temple of Dendur), the Louvre, the Smithsonian and many, many other institutions, their most enduring legacy will undoubtedly be the addiction crisis that has spread throughout the world fueled by their revolutionary advertising techniques and corrupt practices. Many consider Richard- one of the second generation Sacklers- to be the most responsible for the carnage, but others feel the oldest of the three brothers- Arthur- bears the largest share of blame. It was he who masterminded the family drug empire through inventive advertising, a glamorous drug sales force, lavish gifts to physicians, a group of dedicated lawyers, and a myriad of lies. His brothers and he became billionaires many times over as millions became addicted to their drugs. Keefe’s book is an indictment of one family and a culture that allows the few to accrue so much. Highly recommended!