The Least of Us
True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth
Apple Best Books of 2021
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal * Shortlisted for the Zocalo Book Prize
From the New York Times bestselling author of Dreamland, a searing follow-up that explores the terrifying next stages of the opioid epidemic and the quiet yet ardent stories of community repair.
Sam Quinones traveled from Mexico to main streets across the U.S. to create Dreamland, a groundbreaking portrait of the opioid epidemic that awakened the nation. As the nation struggled to put back the pieces, Quinones was among the first to see the dangers that lay ahead: synthetic drugs and a new generation of kingpins whose product could be made in Magic Bullet blenders. In fentanyl, traffickers landed a painkiller a hundred times more powerful than morphine. They laced it into cocaine, meth, and counterfeit pills to cause tens of thousands of deaths-at the same time as Mexican traffickers made methamphetamine cheaper and more potent than ever, creating, Sam argues, swaths of mental illness and a surge in homelessness across the United States.
Quinones hit the road to investigate these new threats, discovering how addiction is exacerbated by consumer-product corporations. "In a time when drug traffickers act like corporations and corporations like traffickers," he writes, "our best defense, perhaps our only defense, lies in bolstering community." Amid a landscape of despair, Quinones found hope in those embracing the forgotten and ignored, illuminating the striking truth that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable.
Weaving analysis of the drug trade into stories of humble communities, The Least of Us delivers an unexpected and awe-inspiring response to the call that shocked the nation in Sam Quinones's award-winning Dreamland.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In 2015’s Dreamland, journalist Sam Quinones examined the roots of America’s opioid crisis. His follow-up, The Least of Us, looks at how small towns and quiet suburbs have rebuilt after being wracked by cheap, plentiful drugs, even as federal, state, and local agents have been facing an even-deadlier crisis with synthetic drugs like fentanyl and P2P. Quinones handles the stories of addicts—current, recovering, and dead—and the communities trying to save them with quiet sensitivity. The fast-paced procedural chapters are filled with compelling detail—P2P is the first kind of meth to hit Black neighborhoods as hard as working-class white ones—and fascinating character studies of those striving to stem the tide. What really stuck with us were Quinones’ stories of bonding with the survivors, counselors, and grassroots organizers he interviewed. These encounters drive home how addiction can happen to anyone—and how community support systems are the best possible response.
Meticulously investigative facts re:epidemic
Wonderful to view the country through the most desolate, strongest, the hardship, worship gratitude and compassion most have in these communities when all one has is kindness of neighbors and how the opioid epidemic and stark distance from wealth and poor. Eye opener for many and several circumstances had my eyes wide open with absolute disbelief then so much angst and empathy. This should be required reading, it’s imperative these days
Couldn’t put this book down
Written honestly and with a compelling narrative. You feel for each of the people described in this story. One of the best books I’ve read this year.