Dreamland by Sam Quinones


Dreamland by Sam Quinones

Winner of the NBCC Award for General Nonfiction

Named on Amazon's Best Books of the Year 2015--Michael Botticelli, U.S. Drug Czar (Politico) Favorite Book of the Year--Angus Deaton, Nobel Prize Economics (Bloomberg/WSJ) Best Books of 2015--Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky (WSJ) Books of the Year--Slate.com's 10 Best Books of 2015--Entertainment Weekly's 10 Best Books of 2015 --Buzzfeed's 19 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015--The Daily Beast's Best Big Idea Books of 2015--Seattle Times' Best Books of 2015--Boston Globe's Best Books of 2015--St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Books of 2015--The Guardian's The Best Book We Read All Year--Audible's Best Books of 2015--Texas Observer's Five Books We Loved in 2015--Chicago Public Library's Best Nonfiction Books of 2015

From a small town in Mexico to the boardrooms of Big Pharma, an explosive and shocking account of addiction and black tar heroin in the heartland of America.

In 1929, in the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio, a company built a swimming pool the size of a football field; named Dreamland, it became the vital center of the community. Now, addiction has devastated Portsmouth, as it has hundreds of small rural towns and suburbs across America--addiction like no other the country has ever faced. How that happened is the riveting story of Dreamland.

With a great reporter's narrative skill and the storytelling ability of a novelist, acclaimed journalist Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of capitalism run amok whose unintentional collision has been catastrophic. The unfettered prescribing of pain medications during the 1990s reached its peak in Purdue Pharma's campaign to market OxyContin, its new, expensive--extremely addictive--miracle painkiller. Meanwhile, a massive influx of black tar heroin--cheap, potent, and originating from one small county on Mexico's west coast, independent of any drug cartel--assaulted small town and mid-sized cities across the country, driven by a brilliant, almost unbeatable marketing and distribution system. Together these phenomena continue to lay waste to communities from Tennessee to Oregon, Indiana to New Mexico.

Introducing a memorable cast of characters--pharma pioneers, young Mexican entrepreneurs, narcotics investigators, survivors, and parents--Quinones shows how these tales fit together. Dreamland is a revelatory account of the corrosive threat facing America and its heartland.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 02, 2015 – In this fascinating, often horrifying investigation, journalist Quinones (True Tales from Another Mexico) delves into the heart of America's obsession with opiates like heroin, morphine, and OxyContin. He looks at how aggressive marketing and irresponsible business tactics led to the widespread use of addictive prescription painkillers (especially OxyContin) and how Mexican drug cartels introduced black tar heroin into small towns and vulnerable areas around the U.S. The story of the so-called Xalisco Boys, the source of so much misery and exploitation, unfolds with grim efficiency under Quinone's scrutiny. He doesn't hold back as he describes how widespread addiction and pill mills devastated entire communities, such as the blue-collar city of Portsmouth, Ohio. Through extensive interviews and research, Quinone gives a very human perspective to this topic, telling the tales of addicts and pushers, researchers and cops alike. While some of the threads become repetitive, this remains a harrowing, eye-opening look at two sides of the same coin, the legal and illegal faces of addictive painkillers and their insidious power.

Customer Reviews


This is truly a good non-fiction story. It has love and hate, good and evil, destruction and a kind of redemption. It is a story of corporate greed and how it affects Main Street America and the unintended consequences of trying to ease human pain. Most of all it is about where good intentions and the path to Hell often intersect.


This was a very interesting book. I learned a lot.

Dreamland is very informative

Great book. Halfway through it at the moment. Really helps understand how the opiate addiction leading to heroin got started. Talks about the Pharma's role and abuse of power. Doctors roles in overprescribing for pain relief and especially lots of details on the supply chain of black tar heroin from Mexico and how the distribution chains work in the US. I bought Kindle edition for just a little over $7. Sorry ITunes. You're too bad expensive much of the time though I like how iBooks works better than Kindle.

Dreamland by Sam Quinones
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, Android, Win, *Nix, and more.
  • Category: True Crime
  • Published: Apr 21, 2015
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Seller: INscribe Digital
  • Print Length: 384 Pages
  • Language: English

Customer Ratings

57 Ratings