About the Book
A deeply human story, Fentanyl, Inc. is the first deep-dive investigation of a hazardous and illicit industry that has created a worldwide epidemic, ravaging communities and overwhelming and confounding government agencies that are challenged to combat it. “A whole new crop of chemicals is radically changing the recreational drug landscape,” writes Ben Westhoff. “These are known as Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and they include replacements for known drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. They are synthetic, made in a laboratory, and are much more potent than traditional drugs”—and all-too-often tragically lethal.
Drugs like fentanyl, K2, and Spice—and those with arcane acronyms like 25i-NBOMe— were all originally conceived in legitimate laboratories for proper scientific and medicinal purposes. Their formulas were then hijacked and manufactured by rogue chemists, largely in China, who change their molecular structures to stay ahead of the law, making the drugs’ effects impossible to predict. Westhoff has infiltrated this shadowy world. He tracks down the little-known scientists who invented these drugs and inadvertently killed thousands, as well as a mysterious drug baron who turned the law upside down in his home country of New Zealand. Westhoff visits the shady factories in China from which these drugs emanate, providing startling and original reporting on how China’s vast chemical industry operates, and how the Chinese government subsidizes it. Poignantly, he chronicles the lives of addicted users and dealers, families of victims, law enforcement officers, and underground drug awareness organizers in the U.S. and Europe. Together they represent the shocking and riveting full anatomy of a calamity we are just beginning to understand. From its depths, as Westhoff relates, are emerging new strategies that may provide essential long-term solutions to the drug crisis that has affected so many.
“A necessary and sobering look at the opioid crisis and how it is not as simple as it appears on the surface. Well-researched and user-friendly for all readers. An important book.”—Debra Ginsberg, Bay Books (Coronado, CA)
Praise for Original Gangstas
“This may be the best book ever written about the hip hop world.”—S. Leigh Savidge, co-writer and Oscar nominee, Straight Outta Compton
“[Adds] fresh detail to the oft-told stories . . . [A] history that won’t settle for easy heroes or villains.”—Rolling Stone
“An impressive and exhaustive look inside the real world of the pioneering group that brought gangsta rap to the masses.”—People
“A provocative, multifaceted portrait of essential rap pioneers . . . As raw, authoritative, and unflinching as the music Westhoff’s narrative chronicles.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An unforgettable history of the last time music was ever really dangerous.”―Stephen Witt, author of How Music Got Free
Praise for Dirty South
“Dirty South is a must-read for anybody interested in hip-hop’s ever-growing role in America’s cultural consciousness.”—Forbes
“Packed with lively reporting and colorful social history . . . Doesn’t shy away from the bigger questions. Westhoff grapples with Southern rap’s troubling racial politics and takes on the critics.”—Rolling Stone
“Even if you only barely recognize the names in the full title . . . you can still understand and enjoy Ben Westhoff’s new book.”—Seattle Times
“A fascinating exploration of the musical and personal terrain of what has come to be known as the Southern sound of rap.”—Publishers Weekly
“Westhoff offers an excellent introduction to hip-hop in the South that will be informative and enjoyable for both newbies and those familiar with Southern hip-hop . . . A great introduction to Southern hip-hop, and a fun book for those familiar with the genre and its artists.”—Library Journal