The Big Fail: What the Pandemic Revealed About Who America Protects and Who It Leaves Behind
From the collaborators behind the modern business classic All the Devils are Here comes a damning indictment of American capitalism—and the leaders that left us brutally unprepared for a global pandemic
In 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic made it painfully clear that the U.S. could not adequately protect its citizens. Millions of Americans suffered—and over a million died—in less than two years, while government officials blundered; prize-winning economists overlooked devastating trade-offs; and elites escaped to isolated retreats, unaffected by and even profiting from the pandemic.
Why and how did America, in a catastrophically enormous failure, become the world leader in COVID deaths? In this page-turning economic, political, and financial history, veteran journalists Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera offer fresh and provocative answers. With laser-sharp analysis and deep sourcing, they investigate both what really happened when governments ran out of PPE due to snarled supply chains and the shock to the financial system when the world's biggest economy stumbled. They zero in on the effectiveness of wildly polarized approaches, with governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Ron DeSantis of Florida taking infamous turns in the spotlight. And they trace why thousands died in hollowed-out hospital systems and nursing homes run by private equity firms to “maximize shareholder value."
In the tradition of the authors’ previous landmark exposés, The Big Fail is an expansive, insightful account on what the pandemic did to the economy and how American capitalism has jumped the rails—and is essential reading to understand where we’re going next.
Bethany McLean is a journalist and contributing editor for Vanity Fair. She has co-authored multiple bestselling books, including The Smartest Guys in the Room with Peter Elkind and All the Devils Are Here with Joe Nocera. She resides in Chicago with her children.
Joe Nocera is a columnist for The Free Press. His business journalism has appeared in numerous publications, including Esquire, Bloomberg, and The New York Times. He also wrote and produced the hit podcasts The Shrink Next Door and Agatha Christie and the Dandelion Poisoner. His books include All the Devils Are Here and Indentured. He lives in New York City.