Book: Methland : The Death and Life of an American Small Town
Author: Nick Reding
It's imperative to understand that I devour gritty tell-all exposes like they're going out of style. I love nothing more than to be immersed in the underbellies of humanity. "Methland" did not disappoint!
Reding sets out to give a historical account of the meth epidemic's beginning, growth and spread. Interestingly enough, despite what one might naturally think, Meth really took hold in the tiny towns of the Midwest - not in NY or LA as might be expected. Reding spent four years reporting from America's heartlands - particularly Oelwein, Iowa. His account is truly fascinating. Reding clearly outlines how the consolidation of the agricultural industry resulted in a truly depressed local economy. This precipitated mass migration out of the towns which opened the door for the cheap, long lasting and highly effective drug to take its hold.
Meth started out as a prescription used to treat everything from depression to obesity before the discovery that the most appealing result of the drug was the ability to work endlessly without sleeping. In an economy where the vast majority of the residents were forced to work insane hours doing tedious and dangerous tasks, Meth seemed like the answer. Because the result of meth reliance seemed to be increased work ethic (rather than the sloth caused by heroin for example), its use was not only tolerated, it was encouraged. Until it spun out of control - as it inevitably would.
"Methland" is primarily a historical account complete with statistics and medical explanations and therefore runs the risk of being too dense to actually be enjoyable. Reding adeptly provides balance by introducing and following a crew of four main characters through their successes and failures within the meth industry. Reding succeeds in introducing characters that really tug at your heart strings and keep you afloat during some of the more technical chapters.
I've never done meth. I don't know many people who have and previously had no real interest in its' manufacturing. This was a purely voyeuristic adventure that turned out to be vastly informative and highly engaging.
If these types of books are what get you excited, I highly recommend "Methland." However, if this is not something that sparks an interest in you, there is a good chance of getting stuck in some of the denser chapters and I might skip this read.