I gave this book 4 stars on GR. I think more for the subject matter than the writing or overall book.
I do like Michael Lewis’s writing. This book captures what he is really good at: he writes real people as if they are characters in a novel. He really captures their essence through their dialogue and it almost feels like you are hearing things from their perspective. He did it in Flash Boys and The Undoing project as well. It’s one of the reasons I keep reading his works. His background in social sciences and economics influences his analysis of the topics in his books.
I was really interested throughout this book because I actually have a graduate degree in health policy. Unfortunately, outside of an internship at an international organisation, I have not worked in the field. I was interested in social epidemiology, emerging health trends such as communicable and noncommunicable diseases, and the confluence of public heath, governance and policy. There is a large theme of this book which is frustrating for the reader of how inept and inefficient health systems are when dealing with epidemics, pandemics, or health topics. This is all too familiar to me and probably one of the reasons I never could find a job in public health. There is a lot of sitting around in public health and not a lot of action or willingness to do work. Lewis really captures these frustrations that all the characters and personalities comes against political and bureaucratic inertia.
The book’s ending is anticlimactic as we are still in the midst of the pandemic and nothing feels solved or that there is a lot of hope. The book feels like it needs a sequel.
It felt a bit aimless at times like he wanted to feature so many interesting people but the book doesn’t really have a final direction or message.
While I would universally recommend this book, I personally had interest in it that made me like it more than Lewis’s last book. Only recommended if you have an interest in public affairs.
Read April 10-14, 2022.