Methland by Nick Reding

272 pages; Bloomsbury
Nick Reding's Methland takes its readers on a disturbing and fascinating journey to Oelwein, Iowa, in the heart of rural America, where, having lost the family farm and given up on the corner general store, Mom and Pop have turned to this small town's only truly profitable business: cooking homemade methamphetamine in the garage or the bathtub. Addicts and doctors, law enforcement officials and drug dealers (among them, actor Tom Arnold's sister Lori, who went from selling meth in a local bar to running a multimillion-dollar narcotics empire) speak with an astonishing, almost confessional candor to Reding as he tracks the roots, the surges and setbacks of the epidemic that has destroyed so many lives and communities. He covers every aspect: the insidious and very particular physiology of addiction, the government's failed attempts to control the spread of what its users call "Nazi dope," the involvement of Mexican drug cartels in its distribution. What's most impressive about Methland is not only the wealth of information it provides but the depth of Reding's compassion for the individuals meth has touched: the heroes, the helpless witnesses, the innocent victims—and even the perpetrators—of this American crisis.
— Francine Prose