AUTHOR | PATRICK RADDEN KEEFE
Patrick grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts and went to college at Columbia. He received master’s degrees from Cambridge University and the London School of Economics, and a JD from Yale Law School. In addition to The New Yorker, his work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, and other publications. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the New America Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.
He received the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing in 2014, and was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Reporting in 2015 and 2016. Say Nothing received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, as well as the Orwell Prize for Political Writing, and was selected by Entertainment Weekly as one of the “10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Decade.” When Empire of Pain was published, National Public Radio touted the book as a masterpiece of narrative reporting and exhaustively and tenaciously documented.
Empire of Pain won the 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize, was listed as one of the ten best books of 2021 by The Washington Post and People, was listed as one of the top 10 2021 non-fiction books by Time, and one of the best books of 2021 by The New York Times, Newsweek, NPR, and The Los Angeles Times, among others. The Literary Society of the Southwest had Patrick Radden Keefe in the 2021-22 season to discuss Say Nothing.
WATCH: Highlights of Empire of Pain with Patrick Radden Keefe
Sackler, a family name synonymous with great wealth, is emblazoned on the walls of storied institutions like Harvard, Oxford, the Louvre, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. While being obsessed with having their name conspicuously displayed on well-known institutions of science and art, the family largely obscured the fact that it was associated with the drug Oxycodone, later called OxyContin, which killed nearly 500,000 people. But as the drug became widely known and advertised, newspapers and media outlets rushed to reveal the family’s ownership of Purdue Pharma as the developer and marketer of the blockbuster painkiller. This book is the sweeping story of the rise and fall of an American family dynasty obsessed with spreading its philanthropic reputation, yet unwilling, even though they made millions of dollars from sales of OxyContin, to take responsibility for the deaths of the people who died from addiction to the drug.
While many accounts of the opioid crisis focus on victims of opioid addiction, Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain highlights the three Sackler brothers, who were the perpetrators of the family’s downfall. Arthur, the oldest, had little modern-day connection to Purdue Pharma, except for owning one-third of the company, but he was the adman who marketed the tranquilizer, Valium, in the 70’s. Valium became the pharmaceutical industry’s first blockbuster pain killer, which was addictive, and later became a controlled substance. Raymond and Mortimer, the two younger brothers, along with Richard Sackler, a nephew, invested in research leading to OxyContin, and are blamed for soiling the Sackler name when they set out to change the narrative of the American Medical Association establishment that warned of the danger of strong opioids.
The appearance of his byline in The New Yorker is always an event, and collected in Rogues for the first time, readers can see his work forms an always enthralling but deeply human portrait of criminals and rascals, as well as those who stand up against them.