"Empire of Pain"

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Bram
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"Empire of Pain"

Post by Bram »

10/10

This fantastic book covers the history of the Sackler family, the people at the heart of the opioid epidemic. Starting with good intentions, by the 1950's the family was paying off the FDA, lying to Congress, and falsifying information about the safety of their drugs.

As the years go by, every aspect of their reach and power grows. As it does, the family becomes a group of sociopaths with zero conscience or scruples. And the billions they make allow them to pay off virtually every check-and-balance that exists in this country to keep people safe. Although a few (very, very few) people successfully stood up to them, the book is an indictment of America's power structures as a whole: medical, regulatory, justice.

Couldn't put it down.
"Forget about your feelings and become one with the work." -- Bruce Lee


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"Empire of Pain"

Post by motherjuggs&speed »

It can be found at https://archive.org/details/empire-of-p ... er-dynasty

2.5 out of 5 so far, about 60 pages in. It's an interesting story, but very badly written. It would be maybe half as long if the author didn't feel the need to explain things everyone knows, like what antibiotics are, and if he didn't keep signalling his wokeness. Yes, Patrick, we know what was going on in Germany during the war. It's not even close to being professionally written. You know those articles with lots of "quotes" and explanations of simple concepts? It's like that.

Okay, literally at the part I was reading, the author spends 300 words decrying a comment made to Arthur Sackler, which had nothing to do with what was happening at that time. He does lay off this kind of thing for a few pages at a time sometimes and brings some parts of the story to life, but it would be far better if he would just tell us the damn story and stop with the posturing.

As an aside, when did seemingly all authors begin to show so much contempt for their subject? I don't just mean the person they're telling us about, I mean the entire subject. Every article is full of contempt for the milieu it describes. It's in books now too, although it seems they held out longer or maybe I just don't read enough recently published books. When introducing a term, just use the damn term and keep going, you're already describing it, don't use the quotes, or say so-called x, or any of that crap. Writers these days are so sure that everyone's a fucking idiot.

As an aside to the aside, I had a teacher once who knew damn well no one wanted to be there (high school) but he simply taught the material, trusting the students to follow as much as they could and pick up what they could. He was interested in his subject and knowledgeable and a good teacher. He was mesmerizing. I regret that I was so tired in his early class that I couldn't dig it as much as I would have liked. The point being, if you know what you're talking/writing about and can speak or write worth a damn, people will be interested. Patrick Keefe does manage to do this for a few pages at a time. I just wish the editor had simply lined out half the book. But probably the wokeness and condescension was put in at the publishers insistence..

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Bram
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"Empire of Pain"

Post by Bram »

If you’re at page 60, you’ve got about 390 more to go.

Once you finish the book, we can have a better discussion :)
"Forget about your feelings and become one with the work." -- Bruce Lee


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"Empire of Pain"

Post by motherjuggs&speed »

If I order dinner and the soup has a dead mouse in it, there's no way I'm going to think well of that meal or the restaurant, no matter how good the steak is. My points are true regardless of how good the rest of the book is: it already contains enough shit that it can't be great.

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"Empire of Pain"

Post by Bram »

60/450 = 13%

450/450 = 100%

Until you get to 100%, I don't feel you've earned the right to have your points being taken seriously. Now you can disagree, but I don't care. I've wasted enough time in my life listening to people complain about books they didn't finish.
"Forget about your feelings and become one with the work." -- Bruce Lee


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"Empire of Pain"

Post by motherjuggs&speed »

Very dumb point. What's in the first 13% will still be there whether I finish the book or not.

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"Empire of Pain"

Post by Bram »

If it makes you feel any different, I realize I have the same tendency.

"Oh that movie you love that I watched 15 minutes of? Let me tell you why it fucking sucks!" -- I have definitely done a version of this. :isdashit:

Not doing this is liberating in a way. If we haven't fully read a book, watched a movie, or whatever, we can just STFU and not worry about it.
"Forget about your feelings and become one with the work." -- Bruce Lee


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"Empire of Pain"

Post by motherjuggs&speed »

It's not the same at all. I'll give a movie time if it's slow going in the beginning. I like Wings of Desire, but OMFG did that take a long time to get anywhere.

I finished Empire of Pain. And, much to my surprise, when I finished it, the things that were in those first 60 pages . . . were still there.

The good -- At times the storytelling is very good. The descriptions of the origins of the Sackler brothers were good, as were the attempts to relate how Arthur viewed himself and his brothers, and how they viewed him. The descriptions of the court cases against Purdue were good, as were the accounts of the legal and political maneuverings.

The bad -- There was far too much extraneous detail. Keefe also re-describes people and events, as if he's quite sure the reader is too dumb to remember who anyone is. There also were many sections that could have been omitted entirely without losing anything important or interesting.

The ugly -- This comes in three forms. First, Keefe has to signal his allegience to current year values at almost every opportunity. Second, he's determined to soliloquize about the company and the family ad nauseum. We know he disapproves, he wrote a whole book, he doesn't have to keep telling us. Third, Keefe is determined to slime the family whether it relates to business or not. Who cares how old the secord or third wives were? What difference does it make whether someone had a fashion show and whether it went well or not? Several pages are spent on Madeline Sacker's films, and how she doesn't express remorse blah blah -- she was never involved in management, or was even an employee as far as I can tell. Keefe enjoys telling us of the de-naming campaign, as if that has anything to do with the company or the family's dealings. It would have been better for all this kind of thing to be left out. The activities of the management are one thing but Keefe wants to throw everyone in, even when that person had nothing to do with the company's contribution to the opiod crisis.

Overall I give it 0.5 out of 5. Had it been better written and without so much needless material, maybe I'd say 4 out of 5. But there was a lot to wade through and I wish I hadn't taken the time.

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"Empire of Pain"

Post by Bram »

Thank you for finishing it :)

To address your points:

The Good -- I liked the book and enjoyed the parts that you mentioned

The Bad -- Extraneous detail and repetitive situations. While this can drive me crazy, it only does so when it interferes with turning the page. I tore through this book. This doesn't mean your criticism isn't apt, just that I didn't experience the same thing.

The Ugly -- Current Year Values. Keefe twice mentions guns as another public health hazard, along with opioids. For me, that is not a triggering viewpoint. I think looking at gun rights, independent of the efforts of gun lobbyists, makes sense. Other values didn't ping my radar. But feel free to respond with what they were Soliloquies. Again, was turning the pages. Sliming the family. In the case of the younger wives, I thought that added to the story. Here are these rich, unscrupulous men who keep leaving their wives for younger women. They have all the money they could want, they have hot wives, knighthoods and are awarded the Legion of Honor. They won at what counts as winning in a capitalistic society. But they did it on a pile of skulls, lies, and corruption. And now they are dead, they died with all the winnings, and what do they get remembered for? In Madeline Sackler's case...and general mud-dragging in the book...I can see in part where you are coming from, and I can see in part where Keefe is coming from. You're correct in that he seemed determined to demonize everyone, and was grasping at times. And that including some of it didn't strengthen the story, that the case was made regardless. That said, the, "these journalists are gonna regret fucking with a linguist" woman, seemed like a real ass. And Madeline, turning a blind eye to the source of her money....especially when that money was intertwined with death and misery in the way it is...I can't think about that decision without grimacing.

I still give it a 10/10. I thought it was both a riveting story and it changed the way I see the world....and it changed it in an important way.

This is what I seek from a non-fiction book.
"Forget about your feelings and become one with the work." -- Bruce Lee

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