Michael Lewis's books are never dull, and often very eye-opening. This one is no exception. This is not his best work, but still worth a look.
The book lacks an index. In today's world, one could index a book of this size in a few days. There is no excuse for not having one.
But that is a minor quibble.
Lewis' books are interesting narratives wrapped around important issues. This book is about health care and epidemics. The players are a number of really smart people surrounded by gutless, bureaucratic pencil pushers. It is difficult to summarize the story and I will not try.
Charity Dean is one of the good guys (gals, actually). Smart and insightful. Ditto Carter Mecher. They both had the courage of their convictions and were able to think outside the box.
One thing that the book makes clear from simulations and history is this: Shutting down schools is imperative in an epidemic! The CDC was against it for political reasons. We are still arguing over that today.
The book's bad buys are politicians and the CDC. The CDC is now headed by a political appointee. That is bad. When Trump hired John Bolton as a security advisor, the first thing that dim bulb did was to dismantle the epidemic threat team. When Americans were repatriated from Wuhan, the CDC declined to even test them (because they were "prisoner's"), despite the fact that they all wanted to be tested. Politicians (i.e.: Mike Pence) forbade anyone from saying anything that might alarm the public… even if it was true and important for their survival.
"Just in time manufacturing" is a broad term for using computers to anticipate demand and save money. The down side of this is that there is no depth to the system because inventories were kept at minimum levels. In other words, spikes in demand will break it. And that is what happened.
There are two ways to fight an epidemic. One is vaccination and a charge toward herd immunity. The other is to contact trace and stamp out each occurrence... a labor intensive exercise. The latter technique was used to stamp out small pox world-wide. There are now genomic tests that can rapidly identify which variant of COVID a person has. Because COVID changes over time (at a useful pace… not too fast, not too slow), testing can determine not only what you have, but also from whom you got it. The US government, and Canada's too, ignored this route. The correct thing to do is both.
The US did less genomic testing than any other advanced country in the world.
It is estimated that the Mango Mussolini is responsible for roughly 200,000 US deaths.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.