A Billionaire Mayor, Activist Doctors, and the Fight for Eight Million Lives
Email this review


A New York City–based saga showing how “saving lives in America today means fighting to protect people from the pervasive marketing of cigarettes, junk food, and other unhealthy products.”

The city’s bold public health initiatives during the Michael Bloomberg administration were an unmitigated success, but his policies met with plenty of controversy and contention before becoming worldwide models. In the United States, nearly 4 in 10 people die from chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. During his terms as mayor, Bloomberg—advised by his forward-thinking Health and Mental Hygiene commissioners, Thomas Frieden and Farley (co-author: Prescription for a Healthy Nation: A New Approach to Improving Our Lives by Fixing Our Everyday World, 2005)—committed to battling this preventable epidemic by revolutionizing public health policy. They led a visionary team of doctors and public health experts in passing breakthrough laws that made healthy behaviors easier: they outlawed smoking in bars and banned cooking with trans fats; they required fast-food restaurants to post calorie counts for their menu items, and they barred them from selling outsized sugary drinks. The author, who succeeded Frieden, provides an enthralling insider’s view of the high-stakes battle between the administration and the powerful corporations who have made billions selling toxic foods, sodas, and cigarettes. It’s not giving anything away to say that the good guys won. As a result, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers quit smoking, childhood obesity rates slumped, and between 2001 and 2010, life expectancy rose by three years, almost double the nationwide average. In his informed and inspired retelling, Farley provides plenty of behind-the-scenes access to the negotiations, compromises, and brilliant strategies that shaped this now-historic era.

An inspiring story in which the author demonstrates unequivocally that public health policy can not only save lives; it can change the way we view the landscape of food.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-393-07124-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2015


NonfictionSODA POLITICS by Marion Nestle
by Marion Nestle
NonfictionSALT SUGAR FAT by Michael Moss
by Michael Moss