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Apollo's Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,565 ratings  ·  411 reviews
A piercing and scientifically grounded look at the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and how it will change the way we live—"excellent and timely." (The New Yorker)
Apollo's Arrow offers a riveting account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as it swept through American society in 2020, and of how the recovery will unfold in the coming years. Drawing on momentous
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published October 27th 2020 by Little, Brown Spark
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Ryan Boissonneault
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the most important and disruptive global event—in terms of impact on health, the political economy, and culture—of the twenty-first century. Understanding the details and full complexity of the pandemic, therefore, is a necessity for understanding the current state of the US and the world.

Achieving this nuanced perspective is not easy, however, considering the amount of misinformation, disinformation, and superficial black-and-white thinking circulating the web
Morgan Blackledge
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Speed is everything.

Quality is everything else.

This silicon valley truism is bearing fruit in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wether we’re talking about vaccines, public policies or even basically reliable information.

We need fast, accurate and efficacious.

I worked in film and television for 10 years before becoming a therapist.

A somewhat counterintuitive, but actually awesome preparation for working with the mentally ill and addicted in a state of perpetual emergency and managed multi-scenario disast
Garret Macko
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I should read that" remarks (11/19):
Listened to this author speak during a PBS NewsHour interview—brilliant insights.

Review (12/19):
As I noted at the offset of this book, I learned of it after hearing its author, Nicholas Christakas, give an interview on PBS NewsHour. My first thought was: wow, it’s October and the pandemic only really hit the states (initiate mental math) 7 months ago. Isn’t it a little bit early for a book on COVID-19 to be published? Surely, if anything, it must be rushed, n
Shaun Deane
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
Well written, researched and produced but not much to learn if you follow the news, daily - a few suggestions and a tick box confirmation that "I haven't missed anything." The subtitle does not hold up -very little insight about the "profound," long-lasting impact for the future. Suppose that can be surmised. ...more
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
The downside of bringing out a book mid-Pandemic is that it’s bound to be dated by the time of publication. And much of what Christakis recounts will be familiar to those (like me) who have been obsessively following the science and policy of COVID-19 since the beginning of the year. That said, Christakis is a remarkably clear writer, and the book is entirely accessible to any reader - no scientific knowledge necessary. The breadth of knowledge he brings to bear from different disciplines also e ...more
Moritz Mueller-Freitag
Nicholas Christakis is a physician and sociologist at Yale University who is known for his research in the areas of social networks and biosocial science. He is one of several authors who provides us with a book about the impact of Covid-19 while we’re still in the throes of the pandemic. In a little over 300 pages, he sweeps across a wide variety of topics, explaining the nature of the virus and the disease it causes. He also compares the Covid-19 outbreak to other major pandemics in history.

Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In times of great uncertainty, I typically run to experts to learn as much as a I can. Here it is about the effects of a pandemic and how they work, the effects on society, our health long term and our future post COVID.

In some regards I feel better knowing we will get there, however it was distressing to learn that it could take until 2024 rather than just a few months especially now that there is a vaccine. Learning that societies behaved very much the same in past plagues as today and that p
Bryan Alexander
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, health, covid-19
A solid history of COVID-19, this should be a reliable account for years to come.

Christakis explains the biology and epidemiology clearly. He begins by introducing coronaviruses and how they work, using the history of SARS (or SARS-1) to good effect in setting up COVID-19 (or SARS-2). He also explores the human and social elements, teasing out how our response to the pandemic is divisive and destructive, as well as based on caring, mutual aid, and remarkable innovation.

One point I wanted to shar
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-medical
“But blind hope is a fickle companion for our woe. It is not enough. Still, by forcing our gaze to the future, hope can serve another purpose: it can motivate us to prepare.

Microbes have shaped our evolutionary trajectory since the origin of our species. Epidemics have done so for many thousands of years. Like the myth of Apollo’s arrows, they have been a part of our story all along. We have outlived them before, using the biological and social tools at our disposal. Life will return to normal.
Nov 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Didn’t learn anything new from this, an ok summary of the latest pandemic focusing on US. Sweden did the best but the author too stubborn to accept this. The second wave proves that there is very little one can do apart from going to live in bunker. And what is this life for?
Matthew Jordan
May 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020. Nicholas Christakis published this book in October. May we all aspire to that level of productivity. And y'know what? He did a freaking phenomenal job.

This is the first time I've ever read a book about a historic event while that event was taking place. It almost felt like an exercise in mindfulness. Instead of just passing each day experiencing the pandemic, Apollo's Arrow forced me to actually focus and take stock of the moment I was living in. I
Shari Suarez
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
It might seem strange to read about Covid-19 when we're in the throes of the pandemic but this book takes a look at many aspects of the virus without panic. There is urgency, of course but no panic.
The author, physician, researcher and public health expert, covers the origins of the virus, what we can do to mitigate it, the politicizing of the virus and how this will change our society.
It was written for the layperson as the science is described so that anyone even those without a science backgr
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
This was a thorough and well-researched look at COVID-19, including comparisons to previous pandemics. I think I picked up this book hoping for answers of some kind – what I wanted, I couldn't tell you, but on that front it obviously could not deliver. ...more
Dan Graser
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a hugely informative and sobering recap of our relationship with SARS-CoV-2, its origins, basic pathology, and its place among the many pandemics and plagues the human species has faced and chronicled, prepared in erudite and witty fashion by Yale Professor Nicholas Christakis. As we now, at least as of late 2020, are looking toward to prospect of at least one if not two viable vaccines to be distributed in spring of 2021, it is not time to allow any sort of "COVID fatigue" but rather to ...more
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Really good analysis of the time we’re living in and its consequences for the future. It will need to be continually updated with new editions as the pandemic evolves, but it’s worth a read at this moment (Dec 2020).
Max Stone
Nov 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure the audience for this book, which is about covid and seems from the examples given to have been finished being written in late July. Reading a book in November 2020 about covid written in July 2020? Not enough time had passed since covid appeared to have space and perspective on it. And it was already outdated the moment it came out, as the covid pandemic, and the cultural and social reactions to covid, and the scientific understanding of covid, have continued on since then. And wri ...more
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-books
I have to admit that I was very nervous about reading this book. First of all, it seems a little too soon to have a book published about Covid-19 and secondly, I am dealing with some fragile emotions involved with sending my kids back to school so I wasn't sure this book would be necessarily soothing. Fortunately, this wasn't an entirely gloom and doom book about the current pandemic. Instead it looked at the origins of the virus (which is helpful, since it seems like it started decades ago) and ...more
Alexandros Potapidis
Here is the thing about the Coronavirus and its impact on our world; it is destructive, but it also offers promises of creativity and re-thinking of the old; it is deadly, but not near as deadly as some past pandemics (and it has also saved many lives); it spreads fear and misery, but it also offers hope, generosity, and a better version of our world. Our generation is experiencing a grave and difficult period, caused by the decease of COVID-19 that originated by the virus of SARS-2. However, ev ...more
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Upfront: This was a solid, and surprisingly long book on the COVID-19 pandemic (that we are still enduring, as of the time I'm writing this review).

This book is not just an extended news article that merely coalesces the events of the last few months into the book, it actually has a thesis, namely: "pandemics have always been with us, and it's our turn to rise to the occasion."

The book starts with histories of pandemics both similar, such as the case of SARS 1, and dissimilar, like Swine Flu. It
Scriptor Ignotus
Dec 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This book has two components. First, it provides a consolidated account of the early stages of the Covid-19 Pandemic, tracing the development of the virus from its "jump" from bats to humans in late 2019 to the peak of what will probably be remembered as the "first wave" of the pandemic in the summer of 2020. Secondly, it situates Covid within a broader historical and epidemiological context, comparing the current pandemic to some of the other large outbreaks that have occurred in the last centu ...more
Gavin D'Souza
Jun 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
A book that’s insightful and could perhaps not be any more relevant, Apollo’s Arrow ensures that you, the reader, sees a comprehensive picture of epidemics. Kudos to Christakis for this!

Understanding the past and predicting the future is a classic human trait, and this book celebrates us simply being human and doing what we’re best at - being human.

The research is interesting - though largely exclusive to the USA - and shows the brave failures and gracefully silent victories of the healthcare
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This could not be more thoughtful, prescient, and not just exhaustively researched, but witnessed and well-stated. A useful book for not only putting the pandemic in some kind of perspective, but also for handling what can be handled while talking about the future in realistic, supportable terms framed by history. An essential book for those whose moods benefit from being more informed.
Konstantinos Kalampokis
Dec 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
For a book that refers to Covid-19 and was published in August 2020, its really impressive how thorough and extensive work has been done in it.
Recommended to anyone that wants to learn more about Covid and pandemics in general.
Carolyn Harris
Nov 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
An excellent book that places the covid19 pandemic in historical context, discusses the efforts to develop a vaccine and analyzes how society may change in the years following the pandemic. Just as the spittoon disappeared after the Spanish flu, the handshake may disappear after covid19. There is some fascinating discussion of epidemics that were well known in their own time, such as the Russian flu of the 1890s (which may have been a coronavirus), but are little known today. The author focuses ...more
Karen Ng
I read two books about the Covid pandemic this year, The Plague Year by Lawrence Wright and this one. Both were excellent reads although Apollo's Arrow covered a longer time span. At the time of this review, delta and omicron varieties are still raging. I'm not sure what the future holds for our daily life and how badly our lives will be changed by the pandemic. There definitely will be better and more thorough books about this whole ordeal in 2022. At the mean time, if you want to read one book ...more
Jen Johnson
Jan 22, 2022 rated it really liked it
This was well-written and throughly researched. It came out in October of 2020, so reading the numbers of deaths and thinking they were so low was quite a shock to the system.
Dec 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is perhaps the best single book available at present on the COVID-19/SARS-2 pandemic. Its publication date is listed as October 2020, which means it covers events through last summer and so does not include more recent developments such as the recent rapid increases in cases and deaths through November and into December. The author is an academic and physician who is a senior professor at Yale. This is a smart and well written book that has something for most everybody, including readers wh ...more
The Inquisitive Biologist
Jun 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Full of sharp observations, but already dated in places, Apollo's Arrow sees a frontline physician examine COVID-19 and show the many parallels with past pandemics. See my full review at ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it liked it
This was interesting in that it is likely the first well-researched, made-for-the-public book about life under the pall of Covid. It's kind of all over the place, from this history of the flu and various other coronaviruses to the awful handling of the pandemic by Trump to when life will be back to normal (he hypothesizes it will be 2024 before we are no longer anxious to eat out in restaurants and quit wearing masks!!!) Some tidbits: Christakis believes the handshake will be a thing of the past ...more
Paul Gill
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was ok
Highly misleading title. Any reasonably informed individual experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic in real time will get little out of the first 6 of 8 chapters. The last 2 are what I bought the book for. A better editor would have reversed the focus and requested 2 chapters summing up the last 12 months and the other 6 exploring different ways the pandemic will alter our lives.
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Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, MPH, is the Sterling Professor of Social and Natural Science at Yale University, with appointments in the departments of Sociology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Statistics and Data Science, Biomedical Engineering, and Medicine.

Previously, he conducted research and taught for many years at Harvard University and at the University of Chicago. He was on Time mag

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As the final days of the year tick themselves off the calendar, the 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge is coming to a close. Sincere...
177 likes · 170 comments
“Plagues reshape our familiar social order, require us to disperse and live apart, wreck economies, replace trust with fear and suspicion, invite some to blame others for their predicament, embolden liars, and cause grief. But plagues also elicit kindness, cooperation, sacrifice, and ingenuity.” 5 likes
“We know from subsequent leaks that the president was indeed presented with information about the seriousness of the virus and its pandemic potential beginning at least in early January 2020. And yet, as documented by the Washington Post, he repeatedly stated that “it would go away.” On February 10, when there were 12 known cases, he said that he thought the virus would “go away” by April, “with the heat.” On February 25, when there were 53 known cases, he said, “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away.” On February 27, when there were 60 cases, he said, famously, “We have done an incredible job. We’re going to continue. It’s going to disappear. One day—it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.” On March 6, when there were 278 cases and 14 deaths, again he said, “It’ll go away.” On March 10, when there were 959 cases and 28 deaths, he said, “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” On March 12, with 1,663 cases and 40 deaths recorded, he said, “It’s going to go away.” On March 30, with 161,807 cases and 2,978 deaths, he was still saying, “It will go away. You know it—you know it is going away, and it will go away. And we’re going to have a great victory.” On April 3, with 275,586 cases and 7,087 deaths, he again said, “It is going to go away.” He continued, repeating himself: “It is going away.… I said it’s going away, and it is going away.” In remarks on June 23, when the United States had 126,060 deaths and roughly 2.5 million cases, he said, “We did so well before the plague, and we’re doing so well after the plague. It’s going away.” Such statements continued as both the cases and the deaths kept rising. Neither the virus nor Trump’s statements went away.” 3 likes
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