cover image On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service

On Call: A Doctor’s Journey in Public Service

Anthony S. Fauci. Viking, $36 (480p) ISBN 978-0-59365-747-8

Fauci, the former head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, debuts with a revealing, if restrained, look back on his career in public service. Readers hoping Fauci would return fire against those who turned him into a political punching bag will largely be disappointed; he remains impressively even-keeled (if sharply critical) throughout the passages devoted to the Covid-19 pandemic, delivering a candid portrayal of the Trump administration’s erratic, highly politicized approach to the coronavirus, which led to Fauci getting death threats, including a dramatic anthrax scare. The book’s most gripping and personal section recounts the devastating AIDS crisis and Fauci’s “complex” relationship with activist and playwright Larry Kramer, who once labeled Fauci a “murderer” in an op-ed (the two famously found a way to work together toward their common goal, and became close friends). Infusing the narrative with tender details from his private life (he starred on the basketball court at New York City’s prestigious Regis High School, lost his mother to cancer while in medical school, and met his wife, Christine, in the trenches of the AIDS fight), Fauci closes with an urgent warning about what has him worried today: an “impending... crisis of truth” that will make disasters like pandemics “so much worse.” It’s a rich account of a life dedicated to keeping Americans safe. (June)