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THE DESPERATE HOURS

ONE HOSPITAL'S FIGHT TO SAVE A CITY ON THE PANDEMIC'S FRONT LINES

A potent cautionary tale for pandemic preparedness.

An urgent account of how Covid-19 created nearly insurmountable challenges to a famed hospital system.

In a book based on more than 200 interviews conducted over 18 months, Vanity Fair writer at large Brenner creates a tense, stirring picture of the impact of Covid-19 on New York-Presbyterian Hospital’s campuses in New York City, Westchester County, and the Hudson Valley. In the first months of the pandemic, the city’s “most elite hospital system” faced frustration and uncertainty. Little was known about the disease’s cause, treatment, and prognosis; hospitals faced a stunning lack of supplies; doctors and nurses were overwhelmed and grief-stricken by deaths they could not prevent; and they were constantly undermined by decisions at the federal, state, and city levels. The CDC’s “antediluvian” structures made the agency unable “to quickly gather, process, and interpret data,” and states were forced to compete for supplies. When FEMA sent ventilators, they turned out to be old and broken. By mid-March, the hospital had 90,000 masks on hand, a number it needed each day. In its search for protective gear, the hospital found a “profiteering and counterfeit market” allowed to flourish because of a lack of federal leadership. Tests, when they could be found, were unreliable, but the CDC and the Trump administration refused to authorize the import of reliable tests from outside the U.S. As late as June, with cases in New York City soaring, doctors and nurses were unable to get tests for themselves; even when available, processing them “was chaos.” Brenner reveals, as well, the conflicts between staff and “their corporate masters,” who punished health providers if they spoke out about the hospital’s challenges and failures. The author’s probing investigation includes animated profiles of a large cast of characters, creating a palpable sense of trauma, pain, and vulnerability in what one cardiologist characterized as nothing less than war. The casualties, Brenner shows, encompassed far more than the patients who died.

A potent cautionary tale for pandemic preparedness.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-80573-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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