A valuable but overlong overview of an underappreciated drug crisis.



Quinones sounds an alarm about a rapidly spreading form of meth in a follow-up to his award-winning Dreamland.

Buried in this overstuffed book lies an urgent story the author sees as overshadowed by the opioid crisis: the explosive growth of the potentially lethal form of synthetic methamphetamine known as P2P (phenyl-2-propanone). Through extensive but rambling interviews with people ranging from dealers to Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Quinones found that unlike earlier types of meth, made with hard-to-get ephedrine, P2P meth could be more easily made from “legal, cheap, and toxic” chemicals in Mexican labs and shipped north by traffickers. P2P, he learned, could cause intense paranoia and terrifying hallucinations and faster and worse harm than ephedrine-based forms: The new meth “was quickly, intensely damaging people’s brains.” Quinones maps the wreckage nationwide, including that it drew Black dealers to what had been “a working-class white drug.” What he learned is genuinely alarming but embedded in background material on topics that have been extensively covered elsewhere: the neuroscience behind addiction, the pre–P2P shifts from prescription painkillers to heroin to fentanyl, the toll opioids have taken in West Virginia, and the Sackler family’s disastrous stewardship of Purdue Pharma. The author also describes effective community-based responses to the crisis, such as church shelters for homeless addicts and “drug courts” that offer substance abusers an alternative to prison. Quinones concludes that the nation has forsaken “what has made America great” and that “when drug traffickers act like corporations and corporations like drug traffickers, our best defense, perhaps our only defense, lies in bolstering community.” After his account of the corporate missteps of the Sacklers and others, readers may be unpersuaded that the “best defense” might come from hard-hit communities themselves rather than from remedies such as tighter government regulation of rapacious corporations like Purdue Pharma.

A valuable but overlong overview of an underappreciated drug crisis.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-435-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.


The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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