2020: One City, Seven People, and the Year Everything Changed

Knopf. Feb. 2024. 464p. ISBN 9780593319482. $32. SOC SCI
Klinenberg’s (social sciences, NYU; Palaces for the People) rigorously researched book captures the COVID pandemic’s profound impacts—political, economic, social, and emotional—on people around the world. From the earliest hints of COVID in China in 2019, to Trump’s responses to the growing evidence of its rapid spread in the U.S., there have been significant effects on the everyday lives of people who were just trying to do their jobs and take care of their families and friends. The pandemic heightened societal awareness of the terrible disparities in health care and social services, and it reflected the often-dangerous power of social media. Klinenberg also discusses George Floyd’s murder and the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, a compelling part of the book. He pays tribute to people’s resilience and generous responses in the face of terrible odds, via profiles of seven individuals.
VERDICT Scholarly but engrossing, this book captures the lingering uncertainty that has characterized the COVID pandemic, while assessing its global effects and likely future challenges. This vital title has breadth.
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