June in Books

Nina Wieretiło
6 min readJul 1, 2022
The Comfort Book, Matt Haig. See my review here.

New month, new recommendations. Two awesome books of a completely different kind, one book that everyone recommends but I find rather overrated, and one nice refresher about bootstrapping. Enjoy :-)

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, Patric Keefe


I love investigative journalism, not just because it is so interesting to see scandals uncovered at respected, high-profile places, but also because I find the job that the writers are doing so impressive. Imagine how much work and courage and commitment it takes to find all the sources, approach them, convince them to give honest account of what has taken place, then put it all into a coherent, full-picture story… They must be living a super interesting, though taxing, lives.

Now coming back to the opioid epidemic. It has killed more Americans than any war fought by this nation since the World War II. The company that has pioneered the widespread use, promotion and popularity of these drugs among all age groups and demographics (kids included) is Purdue Pharma, led by the Sackler family, one of the richest families in the world. OxyContin, a blockbuster painkiller devised by the company, is today seen as the catalyst for the opioid crisis. The family never advertised the fact that they are behind this drug. What they did, instead, was concocting a network of powerful individuals, companies and institutions that let them get the drug approved multiple times, advertised on the largest medical conferences, promoted even by people from the FDA. They even built their own medical journal, a marketing agency as well as a “competing” company working on generics, thus building a truly integrated opioid powerhouse. From a business perspective, the story is astonishing.

Today, the Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions - Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre — because the company has generated so much money for the family that they could basically buy as much art and other artefacts as they wanted. They are thus possibly more known for their lavish donations to the arts and sciences than for the millions of personal and family tragedies that their brainchild has caused. The book is very good because it does not stop at just judging the Sacklers for causing the opioid crisis — it also explores…