Category Archives: Reviews

From Open Letters Monthly

A Light on the Ground By Joseph P. Wood Methland By Nick Reding Bloomsbury, 2009   In the process of seeing other human being as “one of us” rather than a “them” is a matter of detailed description of what unfamiliar people are like and of a redescription of what we ourselves are like. This [...]

From Oprah Magazine

Nick Reding’s Methland (Bloomsbury) takes its readers on a disturbing and fascinating journey where, having lost the family farm and given up on the corner general store, Mom and Pop have turned to this small town’s only truly profitable business: cooking homemade methamphetamine in the garage or the bathtub. Addicts and doctors, (among them, actor [...]

New York Times Book Review :: Cover Feature

F U L L   R E V I E W Think globally, suffer locally. This could be the moral of “Methland,” Nick Reding’s unnerving investigative account of two gruesome years in the life of Oelwein, Iowa, a railroad and meatpacking town of several thousand whipped by a methamphetamine-laced panic whose origins lie outside the [...]

From the Washington Monthly

In an early scene in Nick Reding’s Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town, a former meatpacker turned small-time methamphetamine cook in Oelwein, Iowa, named Roland Jarvis, inspired by a paranoid hallucination involving black helicopters, pours the hazardous chemicals comprising his home meth lab down the drain and then lights a cigarette, [...]

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer

In many ways, the spread of meth through the heart of America feels like last year’s story. It’s something we’ve already tsk-tsked over and then moved past, especially once it seemed like the epidemic had ebbed after federal intervention – such as limiting customer access to over-the-counter cold and allergy drugs containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, [...]

From the Hartford Courant

Not until the epilogue of Nick Reding’s “Methland” do we learn that Phil Price, a former special agent, backed by a SWAT team, had to talk down and arrest a friend of 20 years, who was newly addicted to methamphetamine and had holed up in a motel room with his 9-year-old son as a hostage. [...]

From the Miami Herald

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin created a small scandal when she told a North Carolina crowd, “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America.” Palin’s comments tapped [...]

From the San Francisco Chronicle

Although the scourge of methamphetamine production and usage has beset San Francisco and other major metropolitan areas – federal law enforcement agencies conducted a meth sting in San Francisco as early as 1959 – when Nick Reding decided to write a book about the deadly, illegal narcotic, he decided to build the saga in the [...]

From Bookslut (by Craig Fehrman)

Every Midwesterner has a meth story, even if most of them come at second-hand. When I was a college junior in Evansville, Indiana, finishing up the last of three weeks of R.A. training, two cops came to give a presentation about campus drug use. These were Evansville’s only narcotics officers, both of whom worked undercover, [...]

From Contemporary Nomad (by David Liss)

I am heading out for a week of family vacation, but I leave you all with a review I have out this weekend in The Washington Post.  The book, Methland by Nick Reding, is pretty terrific. Methland is a social history of methamphetamine in American culture, but Reding looks at this history through the lens [...]

From the Washington Post

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin created a small scandal when she told a North Carolina crowd, “We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America.” Outside of whatever [...]

From the New York Post

When Reding decided to focus on the small town of Oelwein, Iowa, as the nexus of the meth epidemic for his new book, he couldn’t have imagined the nightmares he’d uncover. A jailed addict rips the veins from his own arm. Children left alone by junkie parents drink their own urine to avoid dehydration. A [...]

From the Seattle Times

This is a horrifying book. It has images in it indescribable in a family newspaper. It is about methamphetamine, the people who make it, sell it and use it, and the people who thwart them. Meth is a stimulant related to the diet pills and the stay-awake pills of decades ago. Because those drugs could [...]

From the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch

Conventional wisdom says that the illegal drug methamphetamine (usually shortened to “meth” and colloquially known as “crank”) is destroying lives, breeding crime waves and unraveling the socioeconomic fabric of entire towns, especially in the rural Midwest. Meth can be produced in something as unobtrusive as a kitchen sink; the key ingredient can be extracted from [...]

From Publisher’s 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 [...]

From the Wall Street Journal

Oelwein, Iowa, pronounced “Ol Wine,” is a small city of about 6,700 souls in northeast Iowa that Jay Leno reportedly once called “possibly the worst place in the world.” There are those who love it, though, and the effort of these faithful Oelweiners to revive their methamphetamine-dazed town is the subject of Nick Reding’s “Methland.” [...]

From The Brooklyn Rail

Most writings about drugs or drug cultures are as puerile as their subject matter—sensationalistic or moralizing, effusive in condemnation but offering no solutions, limited in scope and—dare I say?—substance. Whether a casebook study of addiction, a memoir regaling in past pharmaceutical misbehavior, or grassroots or governmentally-mandated literature, treatments of the topic rarely address the range [...]

From the L.A. Times

Journalist Nick Reding stumbled into Gooding, Idaho, in 1999, to report a magazine story about ranching in the sparsely populated flatlands northwest of where Idaho, Nevada and Utah come together. It was there that Reding first encountered crystal methamphetamine, and he didn’t just see it in one place. It was everywhere — on the ranches, [...]

From Details Magazine

The most popular substance brewed in bathtubs since twenties gin, meth has transformed the wholesome image of small-town America into that of a tweaker’s paradise.  Avoiding moral panic, Nick Reding traces the rise of crank with portraits of an Iowa town’s users, dealers, and influence-resisting citizens, telling a story less about crime than about the [...]

From The Village Voice

It’s estimated that more than 26 million people worldwide are addicted to crystal meth—widely considered to be the most dangerous drug on earth. Nick Reding—whose previous book, The Last Cowboys at the End of the World, documented the death of the Patagonian gaucho’s way of life—spent four years in Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), documenting the town’s meth-influenced [...]

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