On a broader level, Michael Lewis’ The Premonition is about the Covid-19 pandemic and the United States’ failure to act before it became too late. On a smaller level, it is about the men and women who foretold of the challenges that the country would face in the event of an inevitable pandemic.
Lewis digs deeply into the hopelessly broken United States healthcare system and how it was ultimately doomed to fail in the face of a national health crisis. Given the fact that there is seemingly no connective tissue between the federal and state levels, you have the most apathetic, incompetent and appalling president in the country’s long history, it is amazing that anyone made it through to the other side.
And the most maddening aspect of what I’ve just written is that it is unlikely to ever change. The country is so stuck in its ways, it is like pulling teeth for anything to change for the better. There are levels upon levels of bureaucratic muck to wade through in order to get anything pushed through into action and with a society so entrenched in division, it’s likely to remain this way for years to come.
It’s easy to look at Trump and throw the blame squarely at his feet, but it’s not all his fault, surprisingly. Blame should rest at the feet of the CDC, an organization entrusted with public safety, who refused to acknowledge the danger before it was too late. You could blame social media, a platform that has gotten wildly out of control in giving everyone a voice, no matter how irresponsible and willfully ignorant they are.
The Premonition shines a spotlight on heroes like Charity Dean, a brilliant woman who has made a career out of trusting her gut and putting the welfare of others ahead of her own best interests. We meet Carter Mecher, a man tasked in 2004 with drafting the nation’s pandemic playbook – one that was ultimately ignored by the “play-it-down” style of government mismanagement. But perhaps the most maddening is Joe DeRisi, a biochemist out of California, who along with a team of volunteers, has the capacity to process over 2,500 FREE Covid-19 tests per day, but were rebuffed because the for-profit healthcare system could not handle a free service OR healthcare providers were prohibited from using them as they had exclusive contracts with labs that charge for tests.
There is so much more to this book than what I’ve written here. Despite operating within the constraints of an endlessly frustrating system, there are still those who choose to push forward and over achieve. We are so lucky to have these people in our world as it is far easier to just look after oneself and throw out an “it’s not my problem” in hopes to absolve some kind of guilt. Lewis gives these heroes their due and one worries that if nothing changes, will they always be there to bail us out?