The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid

The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid

by Lawrence Wright


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From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Looming Tower, and the pandemic novel The End of October: an unprecedented, momentous account of Covid-19—its origins, its wide-ranging repercussions, and the ongoing global fight to contain it

"A book of panoramic breadth ... managing to surprise us about even those episodes we … thought we knew well … [With] lively exchanges about spike proteins and nonpharmaceutical interventions and disease waves, Wright’s storytelling dexterity makes all this come alive.” —The New York Times Book Review

From the fateful first moments of the outbreak in China to the storming of the U.S. Capitol to the extraordinary vaccine rollout, Lawrence Wright’s The Plague Year tells the story of Covid-19 in authoritative, galvanizing detail and with the full drama of events on both a global and intimate scale, illuminating the medical, economic, political, and social ramifications of the pandemic.
Wright takes us inside the CDC, where a first round of faulty test kits lost America precious time . . . inside the halls of the White House, where Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger’s early alarm about the virus was met with confounding and drastically costly skepticism . . . into a Covid ward in a Charlottesville hospital, with an idealistic young woman doctor from the town of Little Africa, South Carolina . . . into the precincts of prediction specialists at Goldman Sachs . . . into Broadway’s darkened theaters and Austin’s struggling music venues . . . inside the human body, diving deep into the science of how the virus and vaccines function—with an eye-opening detour into the history of vaccination and of the modern anti-vaccination movement. And in this full accounting, Wright makes clear that the medical professionals around the country who’ve risked their lives to fight the virus reveal and embody an America in all its vulnerability, courage, and potential.
In turns steely-eyed, sympathetic, infuriated, unexpectedly comical, and always precise, Lawrence Wright is a formidable guide, slicing through the dense fog of misinformation to give us a 360-degree portrait of the catastrophe we thought we knew.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593320723
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/08/2021
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 15,834
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

LAWRENCE WRIGHT is a staff writer for The New Yorker, a playwright, a screenwriter, and the author of ten books of nonfiction, including The Looming Tower, Going Clear, and God Save Texas. His recent novel, The End of October, was a New York Times best seller. Wright's books have received many honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.


Austin, Texas

Date of Birth:

August 2, 1947

Place of Birth:

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


B.A., Tulane University, 1969; M.A. (Applied Linguistics), American University in Cairo, 1971

Table of Contents

Prologue 3

1 "Its Going to Be Just Fine" 17

2 The Trickster 30

3 Spike 39

4 "An Evolving Situation" 59

5 "Flatten the Curve" 78

6 "It's Coming to You" 92

7 "Nothing Can Stop What's Coming" 119

8 The Doom Loop 137

9 "Let It Be March" 154

10 "Its Like a Wind" 165

11 Bellevue 174

12 The No Plan Plan 188

13 Little Africa 212

14 The Mission of Wall Street 222

15 The Man Without a Mask 239

16 Waves 262

17 I Can't Breathe 270

18 Tulsa 289

19 Thelma and Louise 297

20 The Hedgehog and the Fox 307

21 Dark Shadows 324

22 The Rose Garden Cluster 338

23 The Search for Patient Zero 349

24 Survivors 368

25 Surrender 387

Epilogue 408

Acknowledgments and Notes on Sources 439

Notes 451

Index 511

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