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The Plague Year


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A definitive account of the shocking American response to Covid-19, from the acclaimed author of The Looming Tower

About the Author

Lawrence Wright has written for many years for the New Yorker and is the author of the bestselling The Looming Tower, which won the Pulitzer Prize.


A devastating analysis ... Wright is a master of knitting together complex narratives ... A story about hubris and division, complacency and insularity, but most of all precariousness. -- Andrew Anthony * The Observer *
In his characteristically rigorous and engrossing style, Wright documents innumerable episodes of ineptitude and malfeasance ... Maddening and sobering - as comprehensive an account of the first year of the pandemic as we've yet seen. * Kirkus *
Wright explains political mistakes and scientific breakthroughs, but The Plague Year has a more intimate register, too, in its record of how the virus upended everyday lives. The most heartbreaking moments are those that juxtapose ordinary people falling ill with the incompetence, negligence or politicking of the Trump White House ... The Plague Year suggests it was even worse than we remembered or realised at the time. -- Emily Tamkin * New Statesman *
A virtuoso feat ... [Wright has] given us a book of panoramic breadth, [ranging] from science to politics to economics to culture with a commanding scrutiny, managing to surprise us about even those episodes we have only recently lived through and thought we knew well. The story he tells is immediate and often piercingly intimate ... Wright's storytelling dexterity makes all this come alive. -- Sonali Deraniyagala * New York Times Book Review *
In his characteristic style, Mr Wright provides many small sketches of people touched by Covid-19 - from whizzy scientists like Barney Graham to victims like 96-year-old Jim Miller, a D-Day veteran who died of the disease in a cruelly mismanaged home for old soldiers. But the book's main character is Mr Trump, and its main service is in weighing his responsibility for the disaster. * The Economist *
Arresting, lean-limbed, immersive ... Rich with peerless reportage and incisive critique ... Translates the complexities of epidemiology into plain English ... Wright is at his commanding best. -- Hamilton Cain * Minneapolis Star Tribune *
Insightful ... Indispensable as a coronavirus compendium. Very little escapes Wright's notice, and he is adept at placing the ongoing story in an enlightening context. -- Michael King * Austin Chronicle *
Taut, thriller-like, The Plague Year captures the chaos and courage of this unprecedented era that's forever changed us. * Oprah Daily *
By far the best book yet on COVID-19 ... [An] exemplary chronicle [with] countless examples of hope, sacrifice, and heroic feats. Wright's interviews with experts in virology, economics, public health, history, politics, and medicine are enlightening ... Wright is at his finest here in frontline research, expert analysis, and lucid writing. -- Tony Miksanek * Booklist *
[An] incredibly-crafted telling ... [Wright] is an earnest prober, with sober-minded curiosity ... [He] provides a well-wrought map covering the institutions and politicians that failed America during this stretch of the pandemic [and] crucially highlights those that also saved us - the first responders and the reasonable. -- Eric Allen Been * The Boston Globe *

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