Books  |  Nov 17, 2021

Patrick Radden Keefe's Empire of Pain wins Baillie Gifford Prize

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe has won the Baillie Gifford Prize. 

Praised by the judges for its rigour, bravery and narrative energy, Empire of Pain is an investigation of the Sackler family and its role in the opioid crisis. The Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions: Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre. They are one of the richest families in the world, known for their lavish donations to the arts and the sciences. The source of the family fortune was vague, however, until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing a blockbuster painkiller that was the catalyst for the opioid crisis.

Empire of Pain is a masterpiece of narrative reporting and writing, exhaustively documented and ferociously compelling. It is a portrait of the excesses of America’s second Gilded Age, a study of impunity among the super elite and a relentless investigation of the naked greed and indifference to human suffering that built one of the world’s great fortunes.

The Baillie Gifford Prize rewards excellence in non-fiction writing, bringing the best in intelligent reflection on the world to new readers. It covers all non-fiction in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.