A welcome assessment of the reality of the epidemic that has changed our lives.

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APOLLO'S ARROW

THE PROFOUND AND ENDURING IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS ON THE WAY WE LIVE

An authoritative analysis of the Covid-19 pandemic, from its beginning to its hoped-for end.

Sociologist and physician Christakis, who directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale, offers a cogent, deeply informative overview of the coronavirus pandemic, taking into consideration the biology of the pathogen and the social, economic, psychological, and political impacts of the virus on society. Drawing on scientific, medical, and sociological research, he assesses the transmission of the virus, responses worldwide, and prognosis for the pandemic’s end. In addition, he places Covid-19 in the context of past epidemics: plague in ancient Athens, the Black Death in medieval Europe, polio epidemics in 1916 and the 1950s, influenza in 1918, and HIV in the 1980s. “It’s very important to emphasize that, as bad as COVID-19 is,” writes the author, “it’s not remotely as bad as epidemics of bubonic plague, cholera, or smallpox that have killed much larger fractions of the population and that have had much larger and longer-lasting effects.” Nevertheless, he underscores the disastrous effect of inadequate responses, especially from the Trump administration: a “botched” rollout of early tests, lack of coherent national strategy, and repeated “denial and lies.” It’s inarguable, he writes, that “the lack of scientific literacy, capacity for nuance, and honest leadership hurt us.” Christakis emphasizes the importance of wearing masks and enforcing social distancing, two interventions that slow the spread of the virus, which is essential while treatments and vaccines are being developed. While acknowledging “colossal uncertainty” about the future of the pandemic, he predicts that at least until 2022, Americans will live in a changed world. It will be necessary to wear masks, abstain from shaking hands, avoid crowds, and receive medical care online rather than in person. Hopefully, he writes, “one of the unexpected impacts…may be that a society that feels besieged by the threat of the virus will increasingly treat scientific information, and not just scientists, seriously.”

A welcome assessment of the reality of the epidemic that has changed our lives.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown Spark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

RAGE

That thing in the air that is deadlier than even your “strenuous flus”? Trump knew—and did nothing about it.

The big news from veteran reporter Woodward’s follow-up to Fear has been widely reported: Trump was fully aware at the beginning of 2020 that a pandemic loomed and chose to downplay it, causing an untold number of deaths and crippling the economy. His excuse that he didn’t want to cause a panic doesn’t fly given that he trades in fear and division. The underlying news, however, is that Trump participated in this book, unlike in the first, convinced by Lindsey Graham that Woodward would give him a fair shake. Seventeen interviews with the sitting president inform this book, as well as extensive digging that yields not so much news as confirmation: Trump has survived his ineptitude because the majority of Congressional Republicans go along with the madness because they “had made a political survival decision” to do so—and surrendered their party to him. The narrative often requires reading between the lines. Graham, though a byword for toadyism, often reins Trump in; Jared Kushner emerges as the real power in the West Wing, “highly competent but often shockingly misguided in his assessments”; Trump admires tyrants, longs for their unbridled power, resents the law and those who enforce it, and is quick to betray even his closest advisers; and, of course, Trump is beholden to Putin. Trump occasionally emerges as modestly self-aware, but throughout the narrative, he is in a rage. Though he participated, he said that he suspected this to be “a lousy book.” It’s not—though readers may wish Woodward had aired some of this information earlier, when more could have been done to stem the pandemic. When promoting Fear, the author was asked for his assessment of Trump. His reply: “Let’s hope to God we don’t have a crisis.” Multiple crises later, Woodward concludes, as many observers have, “Trump is the wrong man for the job.”

An essential account of a chaotic administration that, Woodward makes painfully clear, is incapable of governing.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982131-73-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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