Patrick Radden Keefe

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Patrick Radden Keefe
Keefe in 2009
Keefe in 2009
Born1976 (1976)
Alma materColumbia University (BA)
University of Cambridge (MPhil)
London School of Economics (MSc)
Yale Law School (JD)
GenreInvestigative journalism
Notable worksSay Nothing and Empire of Pain
Notable awardsBaillie Gifford Prize (2021)

Patrick Radden Keefe (born 1976) is an American writer and investigative journalist.[1] He is the author of five books—Chatter, The Snakehead, Say Nothing, Empire of Pain, and Rogues—and has written extensively for many publications, including The New Yorker, Slate, and The New York Times Magazine. He is a staff writer at The New Yorker.[2]


Keefe grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, attended Milton Academy,[3] and received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 1999.[4][5] He was a resident of Schapiro Hall.[6] Keefe earned a J.D. degree from Yale Law School, an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University, and an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics. He has received many fellowships, including those from the Marshall Scholarship Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He was a policy adviser in the Office of the Secretary of Defense between 2010 and 2011.[7]

Keefe has written investigative reports on a broad array of topics and issues during his career. Topics included a conflict over ownership of iron reserves in Guinea, policy complications faced by states legalizing recreational marijuana, and the capture of Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

Keefe's 2013 story in the New Yorker, titled "A Loaded Gun", on the personal history of mass shooter Amy Bishop received the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing.[1] In addition to winning the National Magazine Award in 2014, he was also nominated for "The Hunt for El Chapo" in 2015[14] and for "Where the Bodies are Buried" in 2016 about a woman who disappeared in Northern Ireland.[15] He won the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award (nonfiction) for Say Nothing.[16]

Keefe is the host of the 2020 podcast "Wind of Change", which explores a rumor that the song Wind of Change by the Scorpions was secretly written by the CIA, rather than by the band's lead singer, Klaus Meine.[17] Keefe won the 2021 Ambies award for "Best Podcast Host".[18]


In Chatter: Dispatches From the Secret World Of Global Eavesdropping, Keefe described how American security agencies, including the National Security Agency, eavesdrop on communications between individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism to determine the likelihood of terrorist attacks occurring in the near future.[19] Keefe describes the electronic intelligence gathering apparatus for detecting this communication, often referred to as "chatter", which he examines in the context of the September 11 attacks. In a review of the book for The New York Times, William Grimes states that "Mr. Keefe writes, crisply and entertainingly, as an interested private citizen rather than an expert."[19]

Keefe's The Snakehead reported on Cheng Chui Ping and her Snakehead gang in New York City that operated between 1984 and 2000.[20][21] Keefe described how Ping illegally smuggled immigrants from China into the United States on a massive scale through cargo ships. The book included interviews with several of those immigrants where they describe their lives in the United States. In 2000, Ping was arrested by the United States government and sentenced to 35 years in prison for her part in leading these operations. Janet Maslin of the New York Times described The Snakehead as a "formidably well-researched book that is as much a paean to its author's industriousness as it is a chronicle of crime."[20]

Say Nothing[edit]

Say Nothing focuses on The Troubles in Northern Ireland, beginning with the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville. Keefe began researching and writing the book after reading the obituary for Dolours Price in 2013.[22]

Empire of Pain[edit]

In April 2021, his book Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty was published by Doubleday. The book examines the Sackler family and their responsibility in the manufacturing of the painkiller OxyContin by Purdue Pharma. The book is an extension of his 2017 New Yorker article "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain."[23][24]



  • — (2005). Chatter: Dispatches from the Secret World of Global Eavesdropping. New York: Random House. ISBN 9781400060344.
  • — (2009). The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream. New York: Doubleday.
  • — (2018). Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. London: William Collins.
  • — (2021). Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty. New York: PanMacmillan.
  • — (2022). Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks. New York: Doubleday.

Essays and reporting[edit]

Double Take columns from[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Patrick Radden Keefe". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  2. ^ "Patrick Radden Keefe". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-12-29.
  3. ^ "Milton in the World: Patrick Radden Keefe '94 Discusses Say Nothing and Writing | Centre Connection".
  4. ^ "patrick radden keefe | bio". Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  5. ^ "Alumni in the News: October 5". Columbia College Today. 5 October 2020. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  6. ^ "Take Five with Patrick Radden Keefe '99". Columbia College Today. 2019-05-30. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  7. ^ "Patrick Radden Keefe : Experts & Staff : The Century Foundation". Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  8. ^ "'Nosferatu,' longform by Patrick Radden Keefe and Derek Jenkins' Mixcloud mixes". Arkansas Times. 25 October 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  9. ^ "A Loaded Gun". The New Yorker. 4 February 2013. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  10. ^ "Buried Secrets". The New Yorker. July 2013. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  11. ^ "Buzzkill". The New Yorker. 11 November 2013. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  12. ^ "The Hunt for El Chapo". The New Yorker. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  13. ^ "Inside the Biggest-Ever Hedge-Fund Scandal". The New Yorker. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  14. ^ "National Magazine Awards 2015 Winners Announced | ASME". Archived from the original on 2017-09-17. Retrieved 2017-12-29.
  15. ^ "Ellies 2016 Finalists Announced | ASME". Retrieved 2017-12-29.
  16. ^ Beth Parker (March 12, 2020). "Announcing the 2019 Award Winners". Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  17. ^ Lyster, Rosa (2020-05-21). "Patrick Radden Keefe Hopes Scorpions Fans Can Still Enjoy Wind of Change". Vulture. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
  18. ^ "The Ambies: 2021 Winners". Ambies. 2021. Archived from the original on November 7, 2021. Retrieved December 12, 2021.
  19. ^ a b Grimes, William (2005-03-02). "The New Hows and Whys of Global Eavesdropping". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  20. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (2009-08-16). "Patrick Radden Keefe's 'Snakehead': Wave of Immigrants Smuggled From China". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  21. ^ "The Snakehead, by Patrick Radden Keefe". Retrieved 2015-12-29.
  22. ^ Kroll, Andy (February 26, 2019). "Terrorism, Torture and 3,600 Lives Lost: Revisiting 'the Troubles' in Northern Ireland". Rolling Stone.
  23. ^ "Empire of Pain review: the Sacklers, opioids and the sickening of America". the Guardian. 2021-04-18. Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  24. ^ Keefe, Patrick Radden (23 October 2017). "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  25. ^ Online version is titled "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain".
  26. ^ Online version is titled "How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump as an Icon of American Success".