American Epidemic: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Opioid Crisis

Edited by John McMillian. The New Press, $17.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-62097-519-0
History professor McMillian (Beatles vs. Stones) gathers some of the most striking reporting on the opioid crisis in this wrenching collection. The first two-thirds of this collection gathers reportage (for example, a look at heroin’s journey from one small town in Mexico to the United States), op-eds (such as a lyrical look at humanity’s history with opium and its derivatives), and personal essays (including a father’s rendition of his son’s addiction) published between 2012 and 2018 in local and national publications—from the Roanoke Times to the New York Times and the literary magazine n+1. The second, much smaller section deals more explicitly with the causes of the epidemic and debates how much of addiction is caused by the chemical hook in opium-based drugs vs. social factors such as loneliness, isolation, and childhood trauma. McMillian calls this collection idiosyncratic, and it is; it provides neither linear history nor concrete solutions. But each piece is well-written, and together they bring light to a quiet but deadly scourge, create plenty of sympathy for its victims, and inspire readers to consider what society can do. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/08/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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