"If life is lived between pain and pills, we end up with too much rage and not enough empathy, too much solitude and not enough solidarity."
Historian Timothy Snyder was misdiagnosed and incompetently treated last December, in two different countries, two different states, and in three different hospitals, for appendicitis. His appendix burst, and turned into life-threatening sepsis, and by January, while still in the hospital, a likely case of (never tested for) coronavirus. Still not completely recovered, he's had a lot of time to think about what Jefferson meant by the "pursuit of happiness," and how this right does not exist without healthcare for all. We've been "duped" into thinking that what we have is somehow adequate, even though our country spends more per capita with worse results, worse in some measures than dozens of other countries. We blame other countries for our viruses, but model our healthcare on just in time practices that lead us to push patients out of hospitals too soon. It meant the US understocked medical PPE and did not have enough hospital beds in the pandemic. Snyder, whose brief book "On Tyranny,' is a perennial bookstore bestseller, is a master at finding the telling moment, such as this tweet, for instance, by our Surgeon General on February 1st:
" Roses are Red/Violets are Blue/Risk is low for #coronavirus/But high for the flu."
The "pursuit of happiness" does not exist without healthcare for all. From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller "On Tyranny," comes his impassioned condemnation of America's coronavirus response and an urgent call to rethink health and freedom.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller On Tyranny comes an impassioned condemnation of America's pandemic response and an urgent call to rethink health and freedom.
On December 29, 2019, historian Timothy Snyder fell gravely ill. Unable to stand, barely able to think, he waited for hours in an emergency room before being correctly diagnosed and rushed into surgery. Over the next few days, as he clung to life and the first light of a new year came through his window, he found himself reflecting on the fragility of health, not recognized in America as a human right but without which all rights and freedoms have no meaning.
And that was before the pandemic. We have since watched American hospitals, long understaffed and undersupplied, buckling under waves of ill patients. The federal government made matters worse through willful ignorance, misinformation, and profiteering. Our system of commercial medicine failed the ultimate test, and thousands of Americans died.
In this eye-opening cri de coeur, Snyder traces the societal forces that led us here and outlines the lessons we must learn to survive. In examining some of the darkest moments of recent history and of his own life, Snyder finds glimmers of hope and principles that could lead us out of our current malaise. Only by enshrining healthcare as a human right, elevating the authority of doctors and medical knowledge, and planning for our children’s future can we create an America where everyone is truly free.
About the Author
Timothy Snyder is the Levin Professor of History at Yale University and the author of The Road to Unfreedom, On Tyranny, Black Earth, and Bloodlands. His work has received the Hannah Arendt Prize, the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding, and an award in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
“[Snyder’s] litany of the many ways the United States bungled the coronavirus response is eloquent and pointed. . . . His cry of rage is certain to get your attention.”—The Washington Post
“Compelling . . . Snyder combines moving personal experience with keen historical and political analysis in Our Malady. . . . A powerful argument for universal health care as a fundamental right.”—Chicago Tribune