Author: Eric Eyre
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: A great work of investigative journalism that benefited from the author’s depth of local knowledge.
So far, the two books I’d heard the least about have been the best books I’ve read on the opioid crisis. In Pain, a memoir by a bioethicist who was addicted to opioids, included both personal experience and some of the most thoughtful analysis I’ve read. This book, Death in Mudlick, is by a reporter who received a Pulitzer Prize for his role reporting on opioid distributor sales data in West Virginia. It really delivered everything I want in narrative nonfiction.
I think the main reason I enjoyed this book more than other popular takes on the topic is that we joined the author in discovering what opioid manufacturers and distributors were up to. We also learned in real time with him about connections between state officials and the distributors. Although I didn’t feel that the people who caused the opioid crisis had really been brought to justice by the end, even the revelation of what they were up to felt like a victory.
The author also brought a real depth of knowledge about place and local politics to his reporting. Other books I’ve read have felt well reported, but they simply lack the depth of knowledge and personal concern that come from living in a place for years. I both felt more invested in this story and more like there was a satisfactory payoff in terms of the good guys accomplishing something. I realize that isn’t something that nonfiction can always deliver, but I certainly enjoy a story where it does!
I’ve read only articles on this topic so far. This book sounds like a natural first step to a deeper knowledge without being overwhelmed.
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It really was! It’s a good look at both the political environment that allowed the opioid crisis to develop and the personal impact of that crisis in a small, hard-hit town. Definitely one of my favorite reads from this deep dive.
This sounds incredible and I’ve never even heard of it! I grew up on the Maryland/West Virginia border, which of course has been hit by the opioid epidemic incredibly hard, so I’m interested in anything spotlighting that region.
I wonder why this one didn’t get as much attention as others. I’m immediately adding it to my list. Thanks for such a great introduction to it!
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Thanks Rennie! I’m surprised this one isn’t more well known, especially given that the author seems pretty impressive. A lot of these books focus on West Virginia, since it’s been so hard hit by the opioid epidemic. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did 🙂
Lisa of Hopewell
I’ll have to read this. Did you read Dream Land by Sam Quinones? It’s set about an hour from my home.
Lisa of Hopewell recently posted…Review: The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
I did and I enjoyed that one too! My family is in Ohio, so I was particularly interested to see what a hub Ohio ended up being for heroin distribution.
Putting this book on TBR now!
Pulitzer Prize winning journalists…never disappoint!
Thanks for the heads-up!
NancyElin recently posted…#AusReadingMonth2022 The Lucky Laundry
It’s true! I love investigative journalism and Pulitzer Prize winning journalists tend to be a good bet 🙂
Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out
This case/situation is reflected in Barbara Kingsolver’s new book Demon Copperhead.
I’d be interested in reading more, thanks for sharing
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Oh, that’s really interesting! I like pairing fiction and nonfiction, but I have to admit that I’m more hesitant to pick up fiction on tough topics. I’ll add that one to my to-read list though and get to it when I’m up for something possibly kind of sad 🙂