Patrick Radden Keefe examines America’s addiction to drugs – and he also exposes another kind of addiction, to money – and this one’s evil. This book breaks my little American heart.

What a fantastic story teller. Last year I read his book “Say Nothing”, a true story about murder and memory in Ireland. Patrick Radden Keefe has a way of making a compelling story jump off the page, become personal and really resonate; the kind that lingers long after the reader has read the last word.

But this book is not just another true story, as millions of Americans know all too well – it’s a crime story, or rather – a horror story.

We’re familiar with the social climber, the arriviste and the poser. We’ve been around them, I’m sure I exhibited symptoms once upon a time. Perhaps that’s why I left Seattle, in search of the old world, only to experience deja vu over and over again as west coast trends spread across Europe – but that’s another story.

But there’s something uniquely embarrassing about being around someone who thinks they’re the first person to acquire money. New money is everywhere, and it can be positive, except when it feels like fingers down a chalkboard. And this Sackler family and their attitude towards money became an evil addiction. They had billions, but it was new money. That was part of the problem. They wanted people to think it was old. They didn’t want anyone to know it was tied to a pill many compare to heroin.

If you thought Trump was bad, or like me, simply a strange amalgamation of the worst qualities of the American, maybe we can all agree there’s probably someone worse on the horizon. And this brings us to the Sackler family. This level of addiction to money is sick. Millions of Americans died because of it. They didn’t want anyone to know ‘how’ they made their fortune, but desperately wanted everyone to know they had one of the largest in the world.

This particular story of the Sackler family will astound, and they do inspire the famous line from The Great Gatsby:

“I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” 

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