The Death and Life of An American Small Town

Book - 2009
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The dramatic story of the methamphetamine epidemic of the 1980s as it sweeps the American heartland--a moving, very human account of one community's attempt to battle its way to a brighter future. Crystal meth is widely considered the world's most dangerous drug, but especially so in the small towns of the American heartland. Journalist Reding tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. As if this weren't enough, an incredibly cheap, longlasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town. Over a period of four years, journalist Nick Reding brings us into the heart of Oelwein, tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, 2009
Edition: First U.S. edition
ISBN: 9781596916500
Branch Call Number: 362.299 Re
Description: x, 255 pages ; 25 cm


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Apr 27, 2018

Being almost a decade old, this book is a little dated as we have moved on to the opiate epidemic as the #1 public offender/concern in the current war on drugs.

For those of us in the Midwest many of us have been exposed to the scourge of meth, especially if you are from a small town. This book provides an in-depth history of the proliferation of meth in it's early days from a mom-and-pop operations to a regional and national epidemic.

This book takes a journalistic approach and author has interviewed many of the principles which he describes throughout.

It really is a good mark or what was going on at the time and also prescient about where meth addiction would go.

If you are interested in modern drug use/laws etc.. this is an amazing anthropological look at the issue.

ArapahoeHollyR Sep 03, 2017

A devastating portrait of meth addiction in small-town Iowa. Personalizes the larger epidemic by focusing on individual stories and the fate of a single locale.

As someone from Iowa, this book was both eye-opening and heartbreaking to read.

ArapahoeMaryA Jan 14, 2017

A fascinating (and a bit frightening) examination of the powerful forces driving the meth epidemic. A particularly interesting exploration of the meth’s germination in the Heartland.

ArapahoeKati Sep 24, 2016

Super fascinating and kinda depressing.

RockTheBooks Nov 07, 2011

An honest and non-judgemental look into the manufacture and use of methamphetamine in rural America. Highly thought-provoking and enlightening, this quick read will leave you wondering what can be done to reverse the drug epidemic. The link between economic down turn and drug use is heartbreaking. This book stresses the need for job creation and drug rehabilitation over prison sentencing.

Apr 19, 2011

Bok is funny with alot of information.If i were to write a book it would be this one.

Dec 10, 2010

One of the more interesting non-fiction books I've read in a long while.


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ArapahoeMaryA Jan 14, 2017

We invariably come back to testing as a means of understanding drug use, even though assuming these tests lead to truth puts one on shaky ground…Consider how the National Survey on Drug Use and Health concludes every four years how many meth addicts there are in the United States…it seems unlikely that drug addicts will take this completely optional test; will answer truthfully if they do take it; and will even be at work in the first place--as opposed to home cooking meth.


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