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This title in other editions

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town

by

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town Cover

ISBN13: 9781596916500
ISBN10: 1596916508
All Product Details

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The dramatic story of the methamphetamine epidemic as it sweeps the American heartland — a timely, moving, very human account of one community's attempt to battle its way to a brighter future.

Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland. Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, 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 to deal with, 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 through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.

Tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic, Methland offers a vital and unique perspective on a pressing contemporary tragedy.

Review:

"Using what he calls a 'live-in reporting strategy,' Reding's chronicle of a small-town crystal meth epidemic-about 'the death of a way of life as much as... about the birth of a drug'-revolves around tiny Oelwein, Iowa, a 6,000-resident farming town nearly destroyed by the one-two punch of Big Agriculture modernization and skyrocketing meth production. Reding's wide cast of characters includes a family doctor, the man 'in the best possible position from which to observe the meth phenomenon'; an addict who blew up his mother's house while cooking the stuff; and Lori Arnold (sister of actor Tom Arnold) who, as a teenager, built an extensive and wildly profitable crank empire in Ottumwa, Iowa (not once, but twice). Reding is at his best relating the bizarre, violent and disturbing stories from four years of research; heftier topics like big business and globalization, although fascinating, seem just out of Reding's weight class. A fascinating read for those with the stomach for it, Reding's unflinching look at a drug's rampage through the heartland stands out in an increasingly crowded field." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa, which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, has been affected by one of the most dangerous drugs in the world.

Synopsis:

The dramatic story of the methamphetamine epidemic as it sweeps the American heartlanda timely, moving, very human account of one communitys attempt to battle its way to a brighter future.

Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland.
 
Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, 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 werent enough to deal with, 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 through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.

Tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic, Methland offers a vital and unique perspective on a pressing contemporary tragedy.
Nick Reding is the author of The Last Cowboys at the End of the World, and his writing has appeared in Outside, Food and Wine, and Harpers. Born in St. Louis, he decided to move back to his hometown in the course of reporting this book.
Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the small towns of the American heartland. In Methland, journalist Nick Reding tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other rural communities across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. Now an incredibly cheap, long-lasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.

Through four years of reporting, Reding brings us into the heart of rural America through a cast of intimately drawn characters. Trafficker Lori Arnold is the queen of Midwest crank. Roland Jarvis is a former meatpacking worker who blew up his mother's house while cooking meth. Oelwein's doctor, Clay Hallberg, feels his own life falling apart as he attempts to put that of his town back together. Nathan Lein, the son of farmers, is now the county prosecutor, struggling with what Oelwein has become.

Methland is a portrait not just of a town, but of small-town America on the brink. Centered on one community battling for a brighter future, it reveals the connections between the real-life people touched by the drug epidemic and the global forces behind it. Methland provides a vital perspective on a contemporary tragedy, ultimately offering the very thing that meth once took from Oelwein: hope.

 “‘Vicious cycle is not an adequate term.  As Reding painstakingly presents it, the production, distribution and consumption of methamphetamine is a self-catalyzing catastrophe of Chernobylish dimensions.  The rich, with their far-off, insulated lives, get richer and more detached, while the poor get high, and finally, wasted.”Walter Kirn, The New York Times Book Review
 
 “This is a strong book, and it tells a complicated story in comprehensible, human dimensions.  Like all good journalism, its the hand holding up the mirror, the friend telling us to take a cold, hard look at ourselves.”Los Angeles Times

“The strength of Methland lies in its character studies.  As a ‘social problem meth is dull and intractable, as are all such problems; reduced, or rather elevated, to the individual level, it is piercing and poignant.  Mr. Redings heart is in the right place.”The Wall Street Journal

Methland makes the case that small-town America is perhaps not the moral and hard-working place of the public imagination, but it also argues that big-city ignorancefueled by the mediatoward small town decay is both dangerous and appalling.”The Washington Post

Methland is a stunning look at a problem that has dire consequences for our country.”New York Post

“A powerful work of reportage . . . a clear-eyed look at a scourge that continues to afflict wide swaths of American societywhether we want to acknowledge it or not.”Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Through scrupulous reporting and fierce moral engagement, Reding conveys the tragedy of the meth epidemic on both a mirco- and macroscopic level.”The Village Voice

“Redings group portrait of Oelweins residents is nuanced and complex in a way that journalists depictions of the rural Midwest rarely are; he has a keen eye for details.”The Washington Monthly

“Whats most impressive about Methland is not only the wealth of information it provides but the depth of Redings compassion for the individuals meth has touched: the heroes, the helpless witnesses, the innocent victimsand even the perpetratorsof this American crisis.”Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine

Methland tells a story less about crime than about the death of an iconic way of life.”Details

 
Methland is definitely worthwhile reading. In some circles it should be required reading. This isnt just a small town issue or an Iowa issue.  This is an American issue.”Oelwein Daily Register

"Methland explains so much that it ought to be read by anyone who is at all interested in why this country continues to divide between rich and poor, educated and un-schooled, rural and urban. Most of all, Methland reminds us that people who confront their devils, inside and out, sometimes find a way to beat them."Bill Bishop, author of The Big Sort: How the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart and coeditor of the Daily Yonder, an online news source from the Center for Rural Strategies

Synopsis:

The dramatic story of the methamphetamine epidemic as it sweeps the American heartlanda timely, moving, very human account of one communitys attempt to battle its way to a brighter future.

Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland.
 
Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, 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 werent enough to deal with, 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 through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.

Tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic, Methland offers a vital and unique perspective on a pressing contemporary tragedy.
Nick Reding is the author of The Last Cowboys at the End of the World, and his writing has appeared in Outside, Food and Wine, and Harpers. Born in St. Louis, he decided to move back to his hometown in the course of reporting this book.
Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the small towns of the American heartland. In Methland, journalist Nick Reding tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other rural communities across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. Now an incredibly cheap, long-lasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.

Through four years of reporting, Reding brings us into the heart of rural America through a cast of intimately drawn characters. Trafficker Lori Arnold is the queen of Midwest crank. Roland Jarvis is a former meatpacking worker who blew up his mother's house while cooking meth. Oelwein's doctor, Clay Hallberg, feels his own life falling apart as he attempts to put that of his town back together. Nathan Lein, the son of farmers, is now the county prosecutor, struggling with what Oelwein has become.

Methland is a portrait not just of a town, but of small-town America on the brink. Centered on one community battling for a brighter future, it reveals the connections between the real-life people touched by the drug epidemic and the global forces behind it. Methland provides a vital perspective on a contemporary tragedy, ultimately offering the very thing that meth once took from Oelwein: hope.

“This is a strong book, and it tells a complicated story in comprehensible, human dimensions.  Like all good journalism, its the hand holding up the mirror, the friend telling us to take a cold, hard look at ourselves.”Los Angeles Times
"Think globally, suffer locally. This could be the moral of Methland, Nick Redings unnerving investigative account of . . . Oelwein, Iowa, a railroad and meatpacking town of several thousand whipped by a methamphetamine-laced panic whose origins lie outside the place itself . . . [Reding] introduc[es] a cast of local characters whose trust it must have been a feat to gain, so wobbly and troubled are their lives. Nathan Lein, the crusading county prosecutor, is the 28-year-old son of pious farmers whos come back to Oelwein to help clean up the meth mess after obtaining degrees in philosophy, law and environmental science . . . Manning another fortress against the siege is Dr. Clay Hallberg, Oelweins leading physician . . . In the tradition of James Agees writings on Depression-era sharecroppers, Reding displays the faces of the damned in broken-capillary close-ups . . . Too many scenes of sulfurous agony might chase away the most calloused, ambitious reader, so Reding recounts these nightmares sparingly, surrounding them with stretches of patient journalism tracing the convergence of social vectors that made the meth plague nearly inevitable and its eradication well-nigh impossible. He details, with blunt statistics and apt anecdotes, the vanishing of educated young males from rural Iowa, as well as the butchering of middle-class jobs at the local packing plant . . . 'Vicious cycle' is not an adequate term. As Reding painstakingly presents it, the production, distribution and consumption of methamphetamine is a self-catalyzing catastrophe of Chernobylish dimensions. The rich, with their far-off, insulated lives, get richer and more detached, while the poor get high and, finally, wasted . . . Whats clear is that the golden rolling heartland that Americans used to think symbolized stability beats fitfully and irregularly still and almost certainly remains inclined to seek out sources of chemical optimism. And no one, least of all Reding, who knows whats what on an intimate, human level as well as on the astral plane of globalism, can tell us where it will all end."Walter Kirn, The New York Times Book Review
 
“This is a strong book, and it tells a complicated story in comprehensible, human dimensions.  Like all good journalism, its the hand holding up the mirror, the friend telling us to take a cold, hard look at ourselves.”Los Angeles Times

“The strength of Methland lies in its character studies.  As a ‘social problem meth is dull and intractable, as are all such problems; reduced, or rather elevated, to the individual level, it is piercing and poignant.”The Wall Street Journal

"A central myth of our national culture . . . Small-town residents, the story goes, are honest, hard-working, religiously observant and somehow just more American than the rest of America . . . Reding reveals the fallacies of this myth by showing how, over the past three decades, small-town America has been blighted by methamphetamine, which has taken root inand taken hold ofits soul . . . Oelwein serves as a case study of the problems many small towns face today. Once a vibrant farming community where union work and small businesses were plentiful, Oelwein is now struggling through a transition to agribusiness and low-wage employment or, alternatively, unemployment. These conditions, Reding shows, have made the town susceptible to methamphetamine . . . [He] tracks the declineand, ultimately, the limited resurgenceof Oelwein, while also examining the larger forces that have contributed to its problems. He links meth to the gathering power of unregulated capitalism beginning in the 1980's. It was then, he argues, that one-time union employees earning good wages and protected by solid benefits . . . began to see their earnings cut and their benefits disappear. Undocumented migrants began taking jobs at extraordinarily low wages, thereby d

About the Author

Nick Reding is the author of The Last Cowboys at the End of the World, and his writing has appeared in Outside, Food and Wine, and Harpers. Born in St. Louis, he decided to move back to his hometown in the course of reporting this book.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Erica Reichert, July 2, 2010 (view all comments by Erica Reichert)
~Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town~ is a very interesting read. I especially appreciated that the author connects the consolidation of union-busting food and agricultural big business and the business lobbying of big pharma with the deterioration of small towns in the U.S. Midwest and the proliferation of meth manufacture and sales. This is a must-read for anyone interested in rural American communities, labor and the economy, drug epidemics, and social policy.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
John Chattin, November 1, 2009 (view all comments by John Chattin)
A compelling and humane look behind the headlines, or what used to be headlines, as meth addiction moves off the front page and more firmly into the fabric and underground economics of our small towns. Reding delves into the lives touched by this drug in small town Iowa, but the setting could just as well be small town anywhere, as it’s truly what Sherwood Anderson’s "Winesburg, Ohio" has become. We have the doctor, the prosecutor, the law enforcement officer, the child, the producer, the addict—with the distant hand of big agricultural and big pharmaceutical—but more than anything, we have the voices of people who all in their own way struggle with what life has become within the rippling effects of addiction.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781596916500
Author:
Reding, Nick
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Author:
Nick Reding
Author:
Nick Reding
Subject:
Iowa
Subject:
Methamphetamine
Subject:
General
Subject:
Substance Abuse & Addictions - Drug Dependence
Subject:
General Social Science
Subject:
Sociology, rural
Subject:
Criminology
Subject:
Methamphetamine abuse - Iowa - Oelwein
Subject:
Methamphetamine - Iowa - Oelwein
Subject:
Psychopathology - Addiction
Subject:
Sociology - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20090631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Recovery and Addiction » Drug and Alcohol Addiction
Health and Self-Help » Recovery and Addiction » General
History and Social Science » American Studies » Drugs and Culture
History and Social Science » Crime » Criminology
History and Social Science » Sociology » General

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town New Hardcover
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Product details 272 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781596916500 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Using what he calls a 'live-in reporting strategy,' Reding's chronicle of a small-town crystal meth epidemic-about 'the death of a way of life as much as... about the birth of a drug'-revolves around tiny Oelwein, Iowa, a 6,000-resident farming town nearly destroyed by the one-two punch of Big Agriculture modernization and skyrocketing meth production. Reding's wide cast of characters includes a family doctor, the man 'in the best possible position from which to observe the meth phenomenon'; an addict who blew up his mother's house while cooking the stuff; and Lori Arnold (sister of actor Tom Arnold) who, as a teenager, built an extensive and wildly profitable crank empire in Ottumwa, Iowa (not once, but twice). Reding is at his best relating the bizarre, violent and disturbing stories from four years of research; heftier topics like big business and globalization, although fascinating, seem just out of Reding's weight class. A fascinating read for those with the stomach for it, Reding's unflinching look at a drug's rampage through the heartland stands out in an increasingly crowded field." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa, which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, has been affected by one of the most dangerous drugs in the world.
"Synopsis" by ,
The dramatic story of the methamphetamine epidemic as it sweeps the American heartlanda timely, moving, very human account of one communitys attempt to battle its way to a brighter future.

Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland.
 
Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, 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 werent enough to deal with, 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 through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.

Tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic, Methland offers a vital and unique perspective on a pressing contemporary tragedy.
Nick Reding is the author of The Last Cowboys at the End of the World, and his writing has appeared in Outside, Food and Wine, and Harpers. Born in St. Louis, he decided to move back to his hometown in the course of reporting this book.
Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the small towns of the American heartland. In Methland, journalist Nick Reding tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other rural communities across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. Now an incredibly cheap, long-lasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.

Through four years of reporting, Reding brings us into the heart of rural America through a cast of intimately drawn characters. Trafficker Lori Arnold is the queen of Midwest crank. Roland Jarvis is a former meatpacking worker who blew up his mother's house while cooking meth. Oelwein's doctor, Clay Hallberg, feels his own life falling apart as he attempts to put that of his town back together. Nathan Lein, the son of farmers, is now the county prosecutor, struggling with what Oelwein has become.

Methland is a portrait not just of a town, but of small-town America on the brink. Centered on one community battling for a brighter future, it reveals the connections between the real-life people touched by the drug epidemic and the global forces behind it. Methland provides a vital perspective on a contemporary tragedy, ultimately offering the very thing that meth once took from Oelwein: hope.

 “‘Vicious cycle is not an adequate term.  As Reding painstakingly presents it, the production, distribution and consumption of methamphetamine is a self-catalyzing catastrophe of Chernobylish dimensions.  The rich, with their far-off, insulated lives, get richer and more detached, while the poor get high, and finally, wasted.”Walter Kirn, The New York Times Book Review
 
 “This is a strong book, and it tells a complicated story in comprehensible, human dimensions.  Like all good journalism, its the hand holding up the mirror, the friend telling us to take a cold, hard look at ourselves.”Los Angeles Times

“The strength of Methland lies in its character studies.  As a ‘social problem meth is dull and intractable, as are all such problems; reduced, or rather elevated, to the individual level, it is piercing and poignant.  Mr. Redings heart is in the right place.”The Wall Street Journal

Methland makes the case that small-town America is perhaps not the moral and hard-working place of the public imagination, but it also argues that big-city ignorancefueled by the mediatoward small town decay is both dangerous and appalling.”The Washington Post

Methland is a stunning look at a problem that has dire consequences for our country.”New York Post

“A powerful work of reportage . . . a clear-eyed look at a scourge that continues to afflict wide swaths of American societywhether we want to acknowledge it or not.”Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Through scrupulous reporting and fierce moral engagement, Reding conveys the tragedy of the meth epidemic on both a mirco- and macroscopic level.”The Village Voice

“Redings group portrait of Oelweins residents is nuanced and complex in a way that journalists depictions of the rural Midwest rarely are; he has a keen eye for details.”The Washington Monthly

“Whats most impressive about Methland is not only the wealth of information it provides but the depth of Redings compassion for the individuals meth has touched: the heroes, the helpless witnesses, the innocent victimsand even the perpetratorsof this American crisis.”Francine Prose, O, The Oprah Magazine

Methland tells a story less about crime than about the death of an iconic way of life.”Details

 
Methland is definitely worthwhile reading. In some circles it should be required reading. This isnt just a small town issue or an Iowa issue.  This is an American issue.”Oelwein Daily Register

"Methland explains so much that it ought to be read by anyone who is at all interested in why this country continues to divide between rich and poor, educated and un-schooled, rural and urban. Most of all, Methland reminds us that people who confront their devils, inside and out, sometimes find a way to beat them."Bill Bishop, author of The Big Sort: How the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart and coeditor of the Daily Yonder, an online news source from the Center for Rural Strategies

"Synopsis" by ,
The dramatic story of the methamphetamine epidemic as it sweeps the American heartlanda timely, moving, very human account of one communitys attempt to battle its way to a brighter future.

Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland.
 
Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, 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 werent enough to deal with, 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 through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.

Tracing the connections between the lives touched by the drug and the global forces that set the stage for the epidemic, Methland offers a vital and unique perspective on a pressing contemporary tragedy.
Nick Reding is the author of The Last Cowboys at the End of the World, and his writing has appeared in Outside, Food and Wine, and Harpers. Born in St. Louis, he decided to move back to his hometown in the course of reporting this book.
Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the small towns of the American heartland. In Methland, journalist Nick Reding tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other rural communities across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. Now an incredibly cheap, long-lasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.

Through four years of reporting, Reding brings us into the heart of rural America through a cast of intimately drawn characters. Trafficker Lori Arnold is the queen of Midwest crank. Roland Jarvis is a former meatpacking worker who blew up his mother's house while cooking meth. Oelwein's doctor, Clay Hallberg, feels his own life falling apart as he attempts to put that of his town back together. Nathan Lein, the son of farmers, is now the county prosecutor, struggling with what Oelwein has become.

Methland is a portrait not just of a town, but of small-town America on the brink. Centered on one community battling for a brighter future, it reveals the connections between the real-life people touched by the drug epidemic and the global forces behind it. Methland provides a vital perspective on a contemporary tragedy, ultimately offering the very thing that meth once took from Oelwein: hope.

“This is a strong book, and it tells a complicated story in comprehensible, human dimensions.  Like all good journalism, its the hand holding up the mirror, the friend telling us to take a cold, hard look at ourselves.”Los Angeles Times
"Think globally, suffer locally. This could be the moral of Methland, Nick Redings unnerving investigative account of . . . Oelwein, Iowa, a railroad and meatpacking town of several thousand whipped by a methamphetamine-laced panic whose origins lie outside the place itself . . . [Reding] introduc[es] a cast of local characters whose trust it must have been a feat to gain, so wobbly and troubled are their lives. Nathan Lein, the crusading county prosecutor, is the 28-year-old son of pious farmers whos come back to Oelwein to help clean up the meth mess after obtaining degrees in philosophy, law and environmental science . . . Manning another fortress against the siege is Dr. Clay Hallberg, Oelweins leading physician . . . In the tradition of James Agees writings on Depression-era sharecroppers, Reding displays the faces of the damned in broken-capillary close-ups . . . Too many scenes of sulfurous agony might chase away the most calloused, ambitious reader, so Reding recounts these nightmares sparingly, surrounding them with stretches of patient journalism tracing the convergence of social vectors that made the meth plague nearly inevitable and its eradication well-nigh impossible. He details, with blunt statistics and apt anecdotes, the vanishing of educated young males from rural Iowa, as well as the butchering of middle-class jobs at the local packing plant . . . 'Vicious cycle' is not an adequate term. As Reding painstakingly presents it, the production, distribution and consumption of methamphetamine is a self-catalyzing catastrophe of Chernobylish dimensions. The rich, with their far-off, insulated lives, get richer and more detached, while the poor get high and, finally, wasted . . . Whats clear is that the golden rolling heartland that Americans used to think symbolized stability beats fitfully and irregularly still and almost certainly remains inclined to seek out sources of chemical optimism. And no one, least of all Reding, who knows whats what on an intimate, human level as well as on the astral plane of globalism, can tell us where it will all end."Walter Kirn, The New York Times Book Review
 
“This is a strong book, and it tells a complicated story in comprehensible, human dimensions.  Like all good journalism, its the hand holding up the mirror, the friend telling us to take a cold, hard look at ourselves.”Los Angeles Times

“The strength of Methland lies in its character studies.  As a ‘social problem meth is dull and intractable, as are all such problems; reduced, or rather elevated, to the individual level, it is piercing and poignant.”The Wall Street Journal

"A central myth of our national culture . . . Small-town residents, the story goes, are honest, hard-working, religiously observant and somehow just more American than the rest of America . . . Reding reveals the fallacies of this myth by showing how, over the past three decades, small-town America has been blighted by methamphetamine, which has taken root inand taken hold ofits soul . . . Oelwein serves as a case study of the problems many small towns face today. Once a vibrant farming community where union work and small businesses were plentiful, Oelwein is now struggling through a transition to agribusiness and low-wage employment or, alternatively, unemployment. These conditions, Reding shows, have made the town susceptible to methamphetamine . . . [He] tracks the declineand, ultimately, the limited resurgenceof Oelwein, while also examining the larger forces that have contributed to its problems. He links meth to the gathering power of unregulated capitalism beginning in the 1980's. It was then, he argues, that one-time union employees earning good wages and protected by solid benefits . . . began to see their earnings cut and their benefits disappear. Undocumented migrants began taking jobs at extraordinarily low wages, thereby d

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