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 (yet dimly remembered) historical epidemics, contemporary analyses, and cutting-edge research from a range of scientific disciplines, bestselling author, physician, sociologist, and public health expert Nicholas A. Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of plague—an experience that is paradoxically uncommon to the vast majority of humans who are alive, yet deeply fundamental to our species.
Unleashing new divisions in our society as well as opportunities for cooperation, this 21st-century pandemic has upended our lives in ways that will test, but not vanquish, our already frayed collective culture. Featuring new, provocative arguments and vivid examples ranging across medicine, history, sociology, epidemiology, data science, and genetics, Apollo's Arrow envisions what happens when the great force of a deadly germ meets the enduring reality of our evolved social nature.
Physician and sociologist Christakis (Blueprint), director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University, delivers a comprehensive and evidence-based rundown of the Covid-19 pandemic from December 2019 to August 2020. He explains that genetic sequencing indicates Covid-19 most likely originated in bats, and details how Chinese officials "abruptly yielded to reality and changed course" after initially silencing doctors who warned of an outbreak in Wuhan. The Washington state man who was the first person to test positive in the U.S. on Jan. 20, 2020, doesn't appear to have infected anyone else, according to Christakis, and recent evidence suggests the disease was already present in other parts of the West Coast. Christakis also laments how recommendations against "universal mask adoption" undermined the credibility of U.S. authorities in the early months of the pandemic, and cites evidence of lower death rates in countries where mask wearing "had always been the norm." Taking the history of the bubonic plague in medieval Europe as a guide, he predicts that consumer spending "will come back with a vengeance" when the pandemic's "intermediate" period ends around 2024. Readers will be enlightened by this lucid, well-informed first draft of the history of Covid-19.