Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live

Nicholas A. Christakis. Little Brown Spark, $29 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-62821-1

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. (Oct.)