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Patrick Radden Keefe longlist author interview

Patrick Radden Keefe longlist author interview

Patrick Radden Keefe, author of ‘Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty’ talks to us about how he conducted his research and if something like this could happen again.

How does it feel to be longlisted?

It's a great honour to be included in the longlist for the Baillie Gifford, and humbling to be keeping company with these fellow authors and their wonderful books.

How did you conduct your research?

I combed through tens of thousands of internal documents that were produced in legal proceedings, discovered old letters and family artifacts in a dozen archives in the US and the UK, and conducted over 200 interviews with people who have known the Sacklers or worked at their company over the decades. 

Do you think that the Sackler story is something that could be repeated in future generations?

Part of what drew me to this topic was its specificity: the particular personalities of the family members and the distinct ways in which they changed the world. But there are also more universal themes and tendencies in this story -- from the ways in which greed and ambition can lead people to make immensely damaging corporate decisions to the manner in which elite institutions are enlisted to launder the reputations of unscrupulous billionaires -- that seem likely to repeat themselves in other contexts. 

What are you working on next?

Next summer I will publish a book called "Rogues," which is a collection of twelve stories that I've written for The New Yorker over the past fifteen years. Most of the stories involve people behaving badly. 

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