Disasters are by their very nature hard to predict. Pandemics, earthquakes, wildfires, financial crises, and wars are not normally distributed; there is no cycle of history to help us anticipate the next catastrophe. But when disaster strikes, we ought to be better prepared than the Romans were when Vesuvius erupted, or medieval Italians when the Black Death struck. We have science on our side, after all.
Yet in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the responses of a number of developed countries, including the United States, were badly bungled. Why? In "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe," New York Times best-selling author Niall Ferguson sets the great crises of 2020 in broad historical perspective and explores why, in the face of a catastrophe, some societies fall apart and others hold together, while a few emerge stronger.