The Premonition: A Pandemic Story - Michael Lewis

The Premonition: A Pandemic Story

By Michael Lewis

  • Release Date: 2021-05-04
  • Genre: Political Science
Score: 4.5
From 925 Ratings


New York Times Bestseller

For those who could read between the lines, the censored news out of China was terrifying. But the president insisted there was nothing to worry about.

Fortunately, we are still a nation of skeptics. Fortunately, there are those among us who study pandemics and are willing to look unflinchingly at worst-case scenarios. Michael Lewis’s taut and brilliant nonfiction thriller pits a band of medical visionaries against the wall of ignorance that was the official response of the Trump administration to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The characters you will meet in these pages are as fascinating as they are unexpected. A thirteen-year-old girl’s science project on transmission of an airborne pathogen develops into a very grown-up model of disease control. A local public-health officer uses her worm’s-eye view to see what the CDC misses, and reveals great truths about American society. A secret team of dissenting doctors, nicknamed the Wolverines, has everything necessary to fight the pandemic: brilliant backgrounds, world-class labs, prior experience with the pandemic scares of bird flu and swine flu…everything, that is, except official permission to implement their work.

Michael Lewis is not shy about calling these people heroes for their refusal to follow directives that they know to be based on misinformation and bad science. Even the internet, as crucial as it is to their exchange of ideas, poses a risk to them. They never know for sure who else might be listening in.


  • A great read. As always.

    By Sari_mak
    Enjoyed his book as I always do. Particularly liked the focus on Charity Dean in this story.
  • Well written and interesting

    By Tim Jennings
    An interesting, and very detailed account, of what went on behind the scenes of learning and understanding Covid-19 by a group of doctors and scientists who often went against directives and with very little support to respond to the pandemic. Behind the scenes is the specialty of author Michael Lewis who also wrote “The Big Short” and “Money Ball”. You’ll learn something here. My only complaint is the length of the chapters. It is a Herculean effort to finish a chapter.
  • Michael Lewis is the best at what he does

    By Papa Mitchee
    No one better than Michael Lewis in breaking down complicated issues so that the average person can understand them.
  • Gripping, yet depressing

    By Auggie's Man
    The lives that could have been saved but for the politicization of the CDC and the lack of preparedness is another sad testament to the dysfunction that plagues our country. No wonder the communications were so botched. If we don’t learn from this, and I fear we won’t, it’s yet another black mark on us as a country.
  • Should be required reading!!

    By Peanut in Austin
    Incredibly informative and so insightful. Has me googling for more information about the characters in this story. Reads better than the latest thriller - but true!!
  • The Premonition is a must read!

    By Lov2lrn
    Spectacularly enlightening! Charity Dean and Joe DeRisi are my heroes!
  • Terrifyingly brilliant accounting of the US government’s failure at exceptionalism

    By Amp1974
    This read was informative - shared all the behind the scenes heroes in this pandemic. Must read.
  • Cassandra of Troy in 2020

    By ornwen
    The most Cassandra of Troy story since Cassandra herself. People who devoted professional YEARS OF THEIR LIVES to defending the US from a pandemic were just… brushed aside. For politics. In the White House, and Sacramento. I’m sure if Lewis had scratched the surface anywhere, he would have found even more people who could have mitigated the disaster COVID-19 became. An amazing read with a disquieting end.
  • Timely & Important

    By Dad Review abs
    In an age when civil servants are publicly derided with tweets and screams for trying to save people’s lives, we need a complete story to understand their care and bravery. This book gets to the history of the characters fighting the COVID pandemic while the disease is still killing people. Give this book to every government employee you know and let them know that many of us appreciate and respect them when they try to do their job with dignity. We rely on public employees who gain no glory and only criticism for doing jobs that make us safer and healthier. If we are going to rise to the challenges ahead we need to change this dynamic.
  • The Premonition - Skip It

    By PubHealthMD
    Deeply disappointing relative to other books by Lewis. The author does touch on some of the failures of the CDC, but misses many other critical examples of their ineptitude. (Example: The CDC had stocked only 1% of the necessary N95 face masks in the $8 billion US strategic national stockpile. Instead, in the years leading up to 2020, CDC chose to stockpile a bunch of high priced items that were unlikely to ever be needed in a health crisis. ASPR took a lot of blame for the stockpile, but insiders know CDC was equally, if not more, at fault.) Lewis also fails to give credit to Trump for any good decisions. For example, Trump closed borders (CDC was vehemently opposed to this decision despite the fact that it was important.) More importantly, Lewis never mentions Operation Warp Speed, which was an unprecedented public health achievement…again spearheaded by Trump. It doesn’t matter if you do or do not like Trump - be honest about who did what, and who was really at fault, if you are going to write a book about COVID. It seemed bizarre to fully omit the OWS story and impact. The book just seemed way too influenced by the author’s political bias. He left out huge pieces of the story if it didn’t fit his narrative.