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Methland : the death and life of an American small town
Reding, Nick
Adult Nonfiction HV5831.I8 R43 2009

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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. (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

From Library Journal:

A thoughtful exploration of the methamphetamine epidemic in the context of small-town America, this work centers on tiny Oelwein, IA, a microcosm of the devastating dynamic among rural life, economic instability, and meth. Reding (The Last Cowboys at the End of the World) studies macro-level forces, from the international drug trade to the influence of interest groups on U.S. regulatory activity. He traces the allure of meth production and consumption, faulting economic disadvantage and, in turn, the consolidation of the American food industry (crucial to Oelwein's troubles was the merger, and then closing, of a meatpacking plant). The book's power derives, however, from the immediacy and everyday reality of one small town, where Reding immerses himself, spending months with several heroic if hardly perfect residents-the doctor, prosecutor, and mayor-and two local meth addicts. With personal ties to the rural Midwest and to addiction, Reding is sympathetic and humane. He leaves Oelwein in the midst of a fragile but hopeful renaissance, with a new industrial park, library, and expanded downtown. The awareness remains that ruin can arrive anytime, by means of a drug that can be made in a kitchen sink. Recommended for general readers.-Janet Ingraham Dwyer, Worthington Libs., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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