The Least of Us
About Sam Quinones
Sam Quinones is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of four books of narrative nonfiction. His latest book is The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the Time of Fentanyl and Meth.
In The Least of Us (published October 2021), Quinones chronicles the emergence of a drug-trafficking world producing massive supplies of dope cheaper and deadlier than ever, marketing to the population of addicts created by the nation’s opioid epidemic, as the backdrop to tales of Americans’ quiet attempts to recover community through simple acts of helping the vulnerable.
The Least of Us follows his landmark Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury, 2015), which ignited awareness of the epidemic that has cost the United States hundreds of thousands of lives, and become deadliest drug scourge in the nation’s history.
Dreamland won a National Book Critics Circle award for the Best Nonfiction Book of 2015.
It was also selected as one of the Best Books of 2015 by Amazon.com, Slate.com, the Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, Seattle Times, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Entertainment Weekly, Audible, and in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Business by Nobel economics laureate, Prof. Angus Deaton, of Princeton University.
In 2019, Dreamland was selected as one the Best 10 True-Crime Books of all time based on lists, surveys, and ratings of more than 90 million Goodread readers.A Young Adult version of Dreamland was released in July of 2019.
His first two highly acclaimed books grew from his 10 years living and working as a freelance writer in Mexico (1994-2004).
True Tales From Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx was released in 2001. It is a cult classic of a book from Mexico’s vital margins – stories of drag queens and Oaxacan Indian basketball players, popsicle makers and telenovela stars, migrants, farm workers, a narcosaint, a slain drug balladeer, a slum boss, and a doomed tough guy.
In 2007, he came out with Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration. In it, Quinones narrates the saga of the Henry Ford of Velvet Painting, and of how an opera scene emerged in Tijuana, and how a Zacatecan taco empire formed in Chicago. He tells the tale of the Tomato King, of a high-school soccer season in Kansas, and of Mexican corruption in a small LA County town. Threading through the book are three tales of a modern Mexican Huck Finn. Quinones ends the collection in a chapter called “Leaving Mexico” with his harrowing tangle with the Narco-Mennonites of Chihuahua.
Sam Quinones is formerly a reporter with the L.A. Times, where he worked for 10 years (2004-2014). He is a veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, the border.
Supply & Demand by Dr. Lev
Let’s talk about supply and demand. Which came first the chicken or the egg? The chicken and egg metaphor are used as a causality dilemma. In drugs, what is more critical the supply of drugs coming in from across our borders or the demand for drugs by our citizens?
Let’s look at history to learn. During the Vietnam War some of our troops were exposed to heroin and became addicted, and yet when they returned home their heroin addiction ended. Speaking to America’s Drug Czar during the Vietnam war, it is clear that heroin availability was limited in the United States and therefore heroin use did not follow our troops home from Vietnam. The was lack of supply.
Fast forward to the prescription opioid epidemic. The driver of overdose deaths was the supply of prescriptions, peaking in 2013. The drugs were infused by the medical community, myself included. Today, prescription pain pills are no longer the leading cause of overdoses. Ending the supply of prescription opioids ended that epidemic.
In the beginning of this century deaths from illicit fentanyl did not exist. Today – fentanyl is the driver of all overdose deaths.
Today methamphetamine use is almost considered normal for people who are homeless.
And scientifically speaking — the egg came before the chicken. It is not such a big dilemma.
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