Empire of Pain - Patrick Radden Keefe

Empire of Pain

By Patrick Radden Keefe

  • Release Date: 2021-04-13
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 853 Ratings


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • A grand, devastating portrait of three generations of the Sackler family, famed for their philanthropy, whose fortune was built by Valium and whose reputation was destroyed by OxyContin. From the prize-winning and bestselling author of Say Nothing.

"A real-life version of the HBO series Succession with a lethal sting in its tail…a masterful work of narrative reportage.” – Laura Miller, Slate

The history of the Sackler dynasty is rife with drama—baroque personal lives; bitter disputes over estates; fistfights in boardrooms; glittering art collections; Machiavellian courtroom maneuvers; and the calculated use of money to burnish reputations and crush the less powerful. The Sackler name has adorned the walls of many storied institutions—Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, but the source of the family fortune was vague—until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing a blockbuster painkiller that was the catalyst for the opioid crisis.

Empire of Pain is the saga of three generations of a single family and the mark they would leave on the world, a tale that moves from the bustling streets of early twentieth-century Brooklyn to the seaside palaces of Greenwich, Connecticut, and Cap d’Antibes to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. It follows the family’s early success with Valium to the much more potent OxyContin, marketed with a ruthless technique of co-opting doctors, influencing the FDA, downplaying the drug’s addictiveness. Empire of Pain chronicles the multiple investigations of the Sacklers and their company, and the scorched-earth legal tactics that the family has used to evade accountability.

A masterpiece of narrative reporting, Empire of Pain is a ferociously compelling portrait of America’s second Gilded Age, a study of impunity among the super-elite and a relentless investigation of the naked greed that built one of the world’s great fortunes.


  • Holy cow

    By AllieeBrown
    I started it at 6:30 when I had my coffee and finished it at 10:30 the same night. I literally could not stop. From the first page it started out with a bang and then got even better. The twists just kept coming. Probably gonna read it again today.
  • Excellent & Thorough Reportage of. The Perdue Pharma Devastattion

    By Dan249333
    Keefe does a remarkable job in tracing the rise and inevitable collapse of the pharmaceutical giant Perdue Pharma and the rapacious Sackler dynasty who were completely oblivious to the damage they wrought garnering obscene profits along the wayI a must read!
  • Empire of Pain

    By des19244
    Well written and exhaustively researched. However, it could have been condensed by 50% and would have been even better.
  • Eye opening

    By mmccaff70
    From someone that lost someone close from this epidemic. Thank you for writing this book.
  • Gut wrenching

    By pupskhutch
    This book is an incredibly detailed look at three generations of a family driven by greed and utterly void of any amount of remorse for their purposeful destruction of humanity in order to line their pockets. The work is very well written!
  • interesting story

    By CreekNine
    interesting to get some of the background of what went on behind the curtains of Purdue. I am just so glad that my physician never put me on OxyContin to fight my chronic neck pain. I could have been one of the statistics. Such a shame of those that were given prescription to such an addictive drug.
  • Mist read

    By Fix The Update Button
    excellent book Must read.
  • A Magnum Opus

    By Pueblo Strong
    Essential reading. Highly engaging, well-researched, deeply absorbing. Unforgettable.
  • A Quintessential Piece of the Opioid Epidemic

    By sonichoneydew
    The research required for a book of this scope - to tell the multigenerational story of the SACKLER family - is staggering. Absolutely amazing work from Keefe. The book couldn’t be more relevant if it tried. This is the quintessential piece in understanding how the opioid epidemic came to be. Please read this book. Our moving forward as a people is dependent upon holding families, like the SACKLER family, responsible for their actions in ruining the lives of so many people.
  • Fascinating

    By BirdoWorky
    Crazy inside story of the opioid epidemic. The Sacklers truly were greedy and evil.