An 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 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.
... capacious, gripping ... Christakis grounds his account not only in the events of recent months but also in a larger history. As he rightly reminds us, pathogens have flitted between humans since the dawn of communal living ... Apollo’s Arrow weaves in graphs and tables, all set against crisp, concise storytelling. The book derives its title from the Iliad but wears its erudition lightly, framing our plague with sociological insights and sparkling anecdotes ... From hard-hit locales such as Brooklyn and the Sun Belt, Christakis illuminates our evolving knowledge of SARS-CoV-2, a virus initially thought to attack the lungs but now recognized as a multi-organ predator. He paints an indelible portrait of a world transformed, from goats and elephants skulking along city streets to the lifting of pollution, as in Jalandhar, India, where citizens could view, for the first time, Himalayan peaks over 100 miles away.
Apollo’s Arrow, by Nicholas Christakis, is a useful contribution to this initial wave of Covid books, sensible and comprehensive, intelligent and well sourced, albeit a little programmatic and dull ... one naturally expects that network science might afford him special insight into Covid-19. This book delivers on that expectation moderately ... 'It is still too early to know,' Christakis writes, how the Covid-19 virus might mutate. It is indeed early, and many more books will offer to help us understand the pandemic. But Apollo’s Arrow is a good start. Another volume, a useful addition to the same shelf, was published in 1859: On the Origin of Species.
Nicholas Christakis has given his rapidly written yet magisterial book about the pandemic the title Apollo’s Arrow ... In some respects, Apollo’s Arrow is an instant history of an event that is by no means over. This is a hard thing to pull off, but Christakis does it with aplomb ... Apollo’s Arrow has three great strengths. Firstly, Christakis clearly explains the nature of the virus and the disease it causes, and shows that social network structures and public policy largely explain the great variance in the pandemic’s impact from country to country ... Secondly, Christakis does an exceptional job of comparing Covid-19 to other major pandemics in history ... The third strength is what it has to say about the future. On the social and psychological consequences of the pandemic, including the silver linings of markedly increased voluntarism and 'catastrophe compassion', Christakis fizzes with insights.