with "Empire of Pain"

The history of the Sackler dynasty is rife with drama—baroque personal lives; bitter disputes over estates; fistfights in boardrooms; glittering art collections; Machiavellian courtroom maneuvers; and the calculated use of money to burnish reputations and crush the less powerful. The Sackler name has adorned 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, but the source of the family fortune was vague—until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing a blockbuster painkiller that was the catalyst for the opioid crisis. 

Empire of Pain is the saga of three generations of a single family and the mark they would leave on the world, a tale that moves from the bustling streets of early twentieth-century Brooklyn to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. It follows the family’s early success with Valium to the much more potent OxyContin, marketed with a ruthless technique of co-opting doctors, influencing the FDA, downplaying the drug’s addictiveness.

A masterpiece of narrative reporting, Empire of Pain is a ferociously compelling portrait of America’s second Gilded Age, a study of impunity among the super-elite, and a relentless investigation of the naked greed that built one of the world’s great fortunes.

Patrick Radden Keefe is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of the New York Times bestseller Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. His work has been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing, and the Orwell Prize for Political Writing.

Evening’s Moderator: Brittany Wason, Literary Producer at The Music Hall


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