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The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  152 ratings  ·  25 reviews
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, whose best-selling thriller The End of the October all but predicted our current pandemic, comes another momentous account, this time of COVID-19: its origins, its myriad repercussions, and the ongoing fight to contain it

Beginning with the absolutely critical first moments of the outbreak in China, and ending
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 8th 2021 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Tawnee Calhoun Librarians and booksellers receive advance reader copies and galleys of books so that we can read and review them in advance of publication.
Ownbymom Ownby Wright very skillfully reminds the reader of what happened, but also puts that series of events into a context that we didn't notice as we were living…moreWright very skillfully reminds the reader of what happened, but also puts that series of events into a context that we didn't notice as we were living through it. He suggests a "so what" that helps the reader make sense of that tidal wave of news.(less)

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Jill Mackin
Lawrence Wright delivers a comprehensive account of the first year of the pandemic. An excellent account by an excellent journalist/author.
Jun 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wright has written a wide-ranging overview of our COVID pandemic year. He includes the ‘tic-toc’ of cases from Wuhan to the rest of the world, including the United States. He covers the science as to how the virus attacks humans and how prior research of coronaviruses allowed the rapid development of an effective vaccine. Why did the United States respond so poorly to the pandemic when it should have responded the best? Wright discusses the politics of America’s pandemic response at the White Ho ...more
La Crosse County Library
"The figure that will haunt America is that the U.S. accounts for about 20 percent of all the COVID fatalities in the world, despite only having 4 percent of the population." --Lawrence Wright, p. 241

Author and journalist Lawrence Wright's latest book, The Plague Year: America in the Time of COVID (2021) is a comprehensive account of America's pandemic experience through 2020 and early January 2021. Undoubtedly, it will be one of the many COVID-19 books to follow, but The Plague Year stands
Michael Asen
Jun 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My ONLY complaint is this book could have been twice as long and it left me wanting more. I cannot imagine anyone synthesizing the events of the year 2020 any better than Wright has done here.
This is non-fiction at it's best. It goes back and forth between talking of people we know(Birx, Fauci,Pottinger, Trump) and people we do not but who either played a large role in fighting the pandemic or were deeply affected by it. If you havent read Wright before he is the modern day Halberstam. Hard boo
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021
There will doubtless be many histories written about the COVID-19 pandemic. Some academic and dry and some popular and narrative-driven. The first two of the latter variety are written by excellent authors: Michael Lewis with The Premonition and this book by Lawrence Wright.

Wright writes in a rueful tone about the missed opportunities, lack of national leadership, and disinformation campaigns. He heaps the most scorn on former president Trump, and his behind-the-scenes reporting of the White Ho
Clif Hostetler
Jun 11, 2021 marked it as to-read
A very good collection of excerpts & comments about this book:

Robert P. Hoffman
Jun 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
A well written account of the origins of the pandemic and how the health establishment and the political leaders responded to the pandemic.

While there is not a whole lot here that hasn't been written about in other places (although the writer writes so well about the events), it is good to be reminded of how fragile our health care system is, how much research helped in the development of the vaccines, and how utterly and completely incompetent the Trump administration was. They were criminally
Jun 15, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2021
“Science is a process of learning from mistakes…”
This book is a dissection of the discoveries, actions, non-actions and mistakes taking place as the facts of Covid were being learned. Often stymied by decisions made at the highest levels, this country stumbled on multiple occasions compounding the effect of the virus on the population. With this book Wright has delivered a post-mortem on the crisis.

The book goes far beyond covid and even outside the boundaries of 2020 to cover topics like the Tu
Renee (itsbooktalk)
Jun 16, 2021 rated it liked it coming soon
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having lived through, and still living through the COVID-19 pandemic, I didn't expect to need much of a refresher on the origin and the spread of the virus across the U.S. and other nations. But Lawrence Wright proved me wrong, and his book "The Plague Year" reminded me of things about COVID-19 which I'd forgotten, and taught me a few things I didn't know about the virus.

In this second year of the pandemic, as the rate of infections and deaths begin to ebb, Wright reminds us of the early unkno
Hugh Carter
Jun 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Give this a few years before reading. While there was content that was new and surprising (the origin of the hydroxychloroquine idea for one), if you have been reading the news in the past 18 months then most of this is going to feel way too familiar.

I have a couple quibbles, like the author inserting a lot of personal stuff about his own projects or zoom calls with his Italian friend, but at the end he talks about realizing his own mortality as a high-risk individual and it is quickly forgiven.
Charlie Shaw
Jun 19, 2021 rated it liked it
This book chronicles the struggles of the Trump administration to get a handle on the pandemic. It also shows the various hypothetical methods of transmission of the disease from human to human and/or animal to human. All hypotheses are explored and backed up by data where it is available.

All attempts at limiting the spread of the infection are outlined and explored in a global setting. The actual final efficacies of each method of infection limitation are explained. It is a battle of government
Muriel Benedict
Jun 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a difficult read. There’s a lot of detail here about the possible origins of the virus and the excruciatingly slow response of the US on every level. He also covers all the social and political upheavals of 2020 which are an important part of the story. Somehow though everything seems diluted and I was looking for a bit more of a deep dive into what we’ve all just lived through. Still some important background here and worth reading. Definitely changed my view of Deborah Birx - for ...more
Jun 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I don't know that I personally learned anything from this book, given how much reading I've done in the past year about COVID. Wait, I take that back, I did learn more about the search for the origins for COVID that I haven't paid much attention to.

And then, of course, there are the personal stories in the book that really make it so engrossing. It's a good chronicle of what the year has been, without going too deep in the weeds.
Jo Middlesworth
Jun 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
History as we lived it

I have been waiting for this book for weeks and it is everything I hoped for. A review of familiar events but with a good deal more of the backstory. There was an interesting digression to the Tulsa Massacre that was fascinating and well worth the side trip too.
Karen Ng
Since The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, I haven’t read anything so entertaining on infectious diseases and microorganisms, but this book is much more than facts. It recorded a very important part of history as well- from the making of CDC, Chinese history, development of the Covid vaccine, all the way to the ex White House administration(45). I highly recommend it.
Jun 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is very useful to make you remember last year, to have narrative about what happened after doomscrolling through it and digesting shocking news day in day out without having time to see trends unfolding.
I read it straight after Premonition from Michael Lewis and they worked well together, maybe I should have read this one first.
Nona Scott
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was ok
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David Anthony Sam
Jun 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
If the daily news is history’s first draft, then Wright has written in this book an excellent second draft. Future works will have more details, stories and documents to use but The Plague Year is what we need right now: A retrospective that can help us understand and perhaps begin to heal.
Jun 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very well done. Made me swear out loud at times. 🤬
Steven Groner
Jun 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
A journalist's de-briefing on the past year. I enjoyed Wright's writing style and his thoughtful organization of chapter content. ...more
Mike Green
Jun 18, 2021 rated it did not like it
Wow 2 fictional books about pandemics in one year! WHO/DNC approved and authorized! Typically a fan of Wrights work but TDS has gotten to him.
Ownbymom Ownby
Jun 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 I've never read anything by Lawrence Wright that I didn't enjoy. And, I've read quite a few of his books. ...more
Jun 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Some interesting info on how the US response to Covid developed.
Jun 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Masterful writing!
Carol McGuire
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Lawrence Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, screenwriter, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. He is a graduate of Tulane University, and for two years taught at the American University in Cairo in Egypt.

Wright graduated from Woodrow Wilson High

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