Fentanyl, Inc.: How Rogue Chemists Are Creating the Deadliest Wave of the Opioid Epidemic


Product Details

$27.00  $25.11
Atlantic Monthly Press
Publish Date
6.4 X 9.0 X 1.4 inches | 1.2 pounds

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About the Author

Ben Westhoff is an award-winning investigative reporter who writes about culture, drugs, and poverty, and has advised officials at the top levels of government about the fentanyl epidemic. His previous book Original Gangstas is the definitive work about West Coast hip-hop. He came up in the alternative weeklies Riverfront Times and L.A. Weekly and has also written for the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, the Guardian, and Vice.


Praise for Fentanyl, Inc.

"An information-packed work of reporting that traces the rise of designer drugs, including synthetic and/or more dangerous versions of weed, acid, and heroin, the last of which gives the book its title. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that's chemically similar to morphine and heroin, is the top cause of fatal drug overdoses in the United States. The most illuminating parts of the book are those that reveal the business practices of Chinese labs that supply illicit fentanyl to U.S. dealers. These labs are a source of death and destabilization for our country, American officials say, while Chinese leaders contend that it's on us to deal with Americans' appetite for the stuff."--Francie Diep, Pacific Standard

"The author seamlessly blends past and present in his profiles of Belgian chemist Paul Janssen, who was responsible for fentanyl's initial development in 1959; police officers; politicians; LSD drug kingpins; and St. Louis street dealers . . . Perhaps most compelling is Westhoff's undercover infiltration of several rogue Chinese drug operations . . . Drawing material from official reports, drug databases, scores of interviews, and years of personal research, Westhoff presents an unflinching, illuminating portrait of a festering crisis involving a drug industry that thrives as effectively as it kills. Highly sobering, exemplary reportage delivered through richly detailed scenarios and diversified perspectives."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Westhoff explores the many-tentacled world of illicit opioids, from the streets of East St. Louis to Chinese pharmaceutical companies, from music festivals deep in the Michigan woods to sanctioned 'shooting up rooms' in Barcelona, in this frank, insightful, and occasionally searing exposé . . . Offers a truly multifaceted view of the landscape of fentanyl use and abuse. The disparate narrative strands he weaves together--including tragic stories of drug users, straightforward analysis of the history of opioid use, tension-filled episodes of drug runs and supplier meet-ups, and the humane and hopeful work of the 'harm reduction' movement--all come together to provide a more complex understanding of the rise of, and response to, the opioid epidemic. Westhoff's well-reported and researched work will likely open eyes, slow knee-jerk responses, and start much needed conversations."--Publishers Weekly

"Will assist policymakers, activists, and general readers in understanding better how to respond to the drug crisis that is only more intractable now."--Library Journal

"So many substance abuse books are a mix of hysterical in tone and a disappointing 'paint by numbers' in their execution, but [Fentanyl, Inc.] really stands out for its research, journalism, and overall analysis . . . It is also a great book on China, and how China and the Chinese chemicals industry works, backed up by extensive original investigation . . . Definitely recommended."--Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"In Fentanyl, Inc., Ben Westhoff lays bare the twisted history that led to opioids wreaking havoc on twenty-first century America. If you want to understand the bloody cycle of addiction and death gripping the nation, you need to read this book."--Ioan Grillo, author of El Narco and Gangster Warlords

"This is an exceptionally useful and well-timed book. I hope anyone concerned about this era's new addiction epidemic will read it and put its messages to use. Ben Westhoff very skillfully combines pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, and gripping international intrigue in his account of America's number-one public health problem. I hope Fentanyl, Inc. is widely read and influential."--James Fallows

"Through his courageous reporting Ben Westhoff takes us to the heart of the problem. In Fentanyl, Inc., he shines a light on the human wreckage and damage caused by the most powerful and dangerous of the opioids, fentanyl and its derivatives. He shows us how addiction, mislabeling, purposefully or mistakenly mixed drugs lead to tragic ends. The drug is often created out of factories operating with the permission of the Chinese government. To solve this epidemic, we must understand it. Make no mistake; the fentanyl problem is a global issue. Fentanyl, Inc., is a must-read, pulling the curtain back and showing us how this human tragedy occurs and how insidious and addictive a drug can be."--Katherine Tobin, Ph.D., Former Member of the U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission

Praise for Original Gangstas

"This may be the best book ever written about the hip hop world."--S. Leigh Savidge, co-writer and Oscar nominee, Straight Outta Compton

"[Adds] fresh detail to the oft-told stories . . . [A] history that won't settle for easy heroes or villains."--Rolling Stone

"An impressive and exhaustive look inside the real world of the pioneering group that brought gangsta rap to the masses."--People

"A provocative, multifaceted portrait of essential rap pioneers . . . As raw, authoritative, and unflinching as the music Westhoff's narrative chronicles."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An unforgettable history of the last time music was ever really dangerous."―Stephen Witt, author of How Music Got Free

Praise for Dirty South

"Dirty South is a must-read for anybody interested in hip-hop's ever-growing role in America's cultural consciousness."--Forbes

"Packed with lively reporting and colorful social history . . . Doesn't shy away from the bigger questions. Westhoff grapples with Southern rap's troubling racial politics and takes on the critics."--Rolling Stone

"Even if you only barely recognize the names in the full title . . . you can still understand and enjoy Ben Westhoff's new book."--Seattle Times

"A fascinating exploration of the musical and personal terrain of what has come to be known as the Southern sound of rap."--Publishers Weekly

"Westhoff offers an excellent introduction to hip-hop in the South that will be informative and enjoyable for both newbies and those familiar with Southern hip-hop . . . A great introduction to Southern hip-hop, and a fun book for those familiar with the genre and its artists."--Library Journal