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Sam Quinones        

Journalist & Author of "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic"

Sam Quinones is a journalist, storyteller, former LA Times reporter, and author of three acclaimed books of narrative nonfiction.

His career as a journalist has spanned over 30 years. He lived for 10 years as a freelance writer in Mexico, where he wrote his first two books. In 2004, he returned to the United States to work for the L.A. Times, covering immigration, drug trafficking, neighborhood stories, and gangs.

In 2014, he resigned from the paper to return to freelancing, working for National Geographic, Pacific Standard Magazine, the New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, and other publications.

Columbia Journalism School selected him as a 2008 recipient of the Maria Moors Cabot prize, for a career of excellence in covering Latin America. He is also a 1998 recipient of an Alicia Patterson Fellowship, one of the most prestigious fellowships given to print journalists.

His cult classic, "True Tales From Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx" are nonfiction stories about people on the margins of contemporary Mexico – drag queens, Oaxacan Indian basketball players, valientes, gang members, and popsicle vendors. His second book of non-fiction stories, "Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration" tell of the lives of Tijuana opera stars, velvet painters, soccer players in southwest Kansas, narco-Mennonites, immigrants who return to run for mayor, a town southeast of L.A., and a young construction worker bent on finding a new way for himself. His 2015 book, "Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic" by Bloomsbury Press, won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award.

He has lectured at more than 50 universities across the United States.

Quinones is now a freelance journalist. He and his family live in Southern California.

Speech Topics

DREAMLAND: America's Opiate Epidemic and How We Got Here


Journalist, author Sam Quinones to speak at Festival of Ideas
Before writing his latest book “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” Sam Quinones spent a lot of time writing about a place he later found out had a lot to do with the problem: Mexico. Quinones, the featured speaker for West Virginia University’s David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas this year, was a freelance writer there from 1994 until 2004, focusing on small-town life and immigration. He came back to the United States in 2004 to work for the LA Times, where he was assigned to write about the success of Mexican drug traffickers in the United States. “I really backed into this story,” Quinones said of the opiate epidemic. “I do not start with the pills, I started with heroin. My question was why were the heroin traffickers doing such big business in America today from Mexico.”

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