Little, Brown imprint The Bridge Street Press is publishing a book on Covid-19 from Debora MacKenzie, a New Scientist journalist covering the pandemic, which it is pitching as "the first authoritative book" on the topic and "the definitive first look at what went wrong".
Covid-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened, and How to Stop the Next One was won at auction by Tim Whiting, executive publisher at Little, Brown, in a deal done for world rights alongside Hachette Books in the US with Max Edwards at Aevitas Creative Management UK. It will be brought out from new upmarket non-fiction list Bridge Street in e-book and audio formats and in hardback in early June, with a trade paperback following in July.
MacKenzie has been a reporter for New Scientist for more than three decades, specialising partly in epidemics and pandemics. Since January, she has reported on Covid-19 in New Scientist magazine and elsewhere, charting the rapid progression of the virus worldwide. In her book, MacKenzie provides "a big-picture look at how our failure to adapt during the last 30 years of social and viral evolution led us to this current crisis and discusses what needs to change moving forward".
Whiting said: "While we are all in the midst of lockdown, and the future is uncertain, what we can do is seek to understand the background to this global crisis. There will come a time, very soon, when some very big questions start to replace the more urgent ones we’re asking at the moment: where did this virus come from? Did anyone predict these events? Could they have been stopped? Can we come up with a plan to make sure they don’t happen again? This extraordinary, compelling and necessary book will answer these, and I see it as being the definitive first look at what went wrong."
MacKenzie said: "it is discouraging to have reported the predictions scientists have been making, for so many years and with increasing urgency, that a pandemic like this was inevitable, only to see how haphazard and ineffectual our preparations have been. There is at least comfort in the thought that now we might fix that—before another and possibly worse disease hits us. They are out there. I hope this book will contribute to the conversations that must now take place."
Edwards added: "Debora’s powerful and swift narrative on the current pandemic is obviously timely, but more importantly provides necessary insight into how this pandemic came to be, why it spread so swiftly and apparently easily, and what’s next for the global response beyond Covid-19. I’m delighted Hachette, both here and in the US, will be publishing Debora’s analysis at this time when people need her clarity and insight."
The book will follow Weidenfeld & Nicolson's 80-page book How Contagion Works from Italian physicist and novelist Paolo Giordano, dubbed an "urgent exploration of the Covid-19 emergency and a chronicle of the Italian lockdown", which publishes as a paperback original in a week's time.
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