Review: Methland by Nick Reding

Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town - Nick Reding

Steven Suo's work with The Oregonian


Methland by Nick Reding is the story of how Olewein, Iowa (pronounced Ol-wine)became the became the living embodiment of the meth epidemic. There are many angles that Reding investigates to show how complex the epidemic is and how multiple solutions are needed to combat the problems. The meth epidemic is not just a drug problem; it is a problem borne out of the consequences of deregulation and mergers of Big Pharma, Big Ag, immigration policy, and lack of government support due to lobbyists' money. Towards the end of the book Reding links the meth epidemic with domestic (white supremacists and outlaw biker gangs) and international terrorism (Yemenis who were funding Hamas). As usual,


Reding's work is both a profile of the town and its people and a well-researched book that takes much of the work (citing properly) of Steven Suo's journalist work (link provided above). It is also a personal labor of love for Reding, a native of St Louis, Missouri and who has family connections in Iowa. He first noticed the meth epidemic taking over small Midwestern towns in 1999.


What was most interesting to me was that meth has been and still is a legal drug in the US. Reding even makes the case that meth is "the all-American drug". I did not realize that between the 1930s and 1980s, meth has been an over-prescribed medicine, especially in small rural white towns. Meth use turned epidemic and violent and deadly by the mid to late 1980s through the mid-2000s, when the Oxycontin epidemic started in earnest (Reding notes that Oxycontin abuse among meth users show an overlap of the two epidemics).


I highly recommend this book.