cover image Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy

Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy

Adam Tooze. Viking, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-29755-1

The real shocker of the Covid-19 virus is not its death toll—there have been deadlier pandemics—it’s “the scale of the response,” writes historian Tooze (Crashed) in this sweeping survey. In what he calls “a comprehensive crisis of the neoliberal era,” nearly 95% of the world’s economies suffered a reduction in GDP, he writes, and the World Bank estimates that the long-term wage loss will be $10 trillion. Month by month, Tooze covers the progression of the pandemic, tracing government action in Wuhan in January and Italy’s response in March as that country went into lockdown, charting the pandemic’s impact on stock markets and on mental health, the divisions in America as the presidential election loomed, the debt faced by the hardest-hit countries, and the race to create a vaccine. A comprehensive history of an unprecedented year, Tooze’s account describes how the pandemic played out politically across the globe, the interplay between climate change and the pandemic, and the myriad effects of the world economy nearly shutting down in a brief period that, as Tooze puts it, made “History with a capital ‘H.’” Readers will find this deeply informed parsing of the pandemic to be illuminating and thought-provoking. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.)