Shutdown by Adam Tooze [8/10]

A scintillating tale of chaos and adventure over 2020 and into 2021, ”Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy” is wonderful historian Adam Tooze’s snapshot of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a special focus on how the global financial markets reacted. Tooze rightly points out his “just happened” history will be swept aside by later histories, but his kaleidoscopic mind ensures that this is a masterful drawing together of all the strands. Constantly stressing how unprecedented were the pandemic, the global “lockdown”reaction, and the fiscal and monetary responses, Tooze also lauds the incredible achievement of lightning vaccine invention and production. Obsessed as I have been with the pandemic’s outworkings in my neck of the wood, I did not realize the fascinating variations and linkages across the globe. Tooze even attempts a first synthesis of Covid-19 as an expression of humanity’s hubris within our environment. The author is a blistering, erudite stylist whose sentences and paragraphs enthral. I surprised myself by reading this in two evening sittings—imagine, a financial markets’ story as a page turner!—and I commend Shutdown to anyone seeking a deeper, more fulsome overview of our age.

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