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This powerful work of gonzo journalism, predating the widespread acknowledgement of the opioid epidemic as such, immerses the reader in the world of homelessness and drug and alcohol abuse in the contemporary United States. For over a decade Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg followed a social network of two dozen heroin injectors and crack smokers in the San Francisco drug scene, accompanying them as they scrambled to generate income through burglary, larceny, panhandling, recycling, and day labor. Righteous Dopefiend interweaves stunning black-and-white photography with vivid dialogue, oral biography, detailed field notes, and critical theoretical analysis to viscerally illustrate the life of a drug addict. Its gripping narrative develops a cast of characters around the themes of violence, racism and race relations, sexuality, trauma, embodied suffering, social inequality, and power relations. The result is a dispassionate chronicle of fixes and overdoses; of survival, loss, caring, and hope rooted in the drug abusers’ determination to hang on for one more day, through a "moral economy of sharing" that precariously balances mutual solidarity and interpersonal betrayal.
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