The author of 'The Looming Tower' comes up with another prescient one

Based on The End of October, Lawrence Wright may be the most prescient author on the planet

Lawrence Wright is the author of The Looming Tower, the definitive book about the rise of al-Qaida leading up to and including the group’s 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. He also wrote Going Clear about the “prison of belief” that is the cult of Scientology.  He has written several other non-fiction books that should be read by all Americans.  The End of October is his first novel and it is the most prescient novel ever written as it tells of a virulent pandemic that begins in Indonesia and subsequently takes over the globe much like COVID-19.  The virus in the book is far more serious than what the world is dealing with at this moment in time, but the extenuating consequences are eerily similar and by now familiar.  

Wright had to have written this book well before the onset of the Wuhan flu. 

Because Wright is a researcher at heart, the attention to detail in the book – medical, microbiological, epidemiological – is more informative than the hundreds of articles published about COVID-19 for laymen.  And yes, Wright shows that ideological bias, if not exactly political, does infect these branches of science that are so crucial to the health of humans.  Although Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx might have been two of his sources, they are not listed in the acknowledgments. Yet Wright has clearly done his homework with countless other experts in many relevant fields. 

Without spoiling the thread of the story, it's worth saying that Wright accurately predicts many of the immediate and the long-term consequences of a pandemic.  Readers will be shocked at how he has foreseen exactly so many of the effects we have all endured with the current flu.  Again, the virus in the book is much more catastrophic but the exponential reverberations across the planet are not so different. The book makes clear how crucially important our experts in these sciences are; not the ones on TV who meddle in public policy but the ones who spend their lives in laboratories fraught with danger to solve the mysteries of the viruses that routinely appear as outbreaks in confined places or spread across the earth without regard for race, class or gender.  Wright offers a very complete and fascinating history of all the pandemics that have come before this one. 

This is terrific book but it is not for the faint of heart; it’s not for anyone who is fearful of COVID-19 or living in a hot spot like New York City.  That it was completed and released this month has to have been inadvertent, coincidental but weirdly prognostic.  Virology and epidemiology were, until now, incomprehensible fields to most of us outside of the medical discipline.  We have all learned a great deal about the flu in all its manifestations these past four months.  Readers of this book will learn much, much more, more than may ever have wanted to know but will be left with a profound respect and awe for those who devote their lives to deciphering viruses and finding vaccines and cures for those that make us sick or kill us. 

There is much more to the story than the pandemic but it is the disease that is the basis for all the other action and storylines.  It is a gripping ride for those not easily frightened by fiction that gets too close to reality for comfort.  This is not escapism.  It’s neither a Brad Thor thriller nor a Daniel Silva tale of international intrigue though there is a some of that.  It is something of a gift for those of us who may have, until now, taken for granted our healthy insularity and the nearly absolute primacy of the American medical establishment.  We should all be profoundly grateful for those who have kept this country going throughout this coronavirus crisis and for all those who have been working around the clock to ameliorate its effects and end it.   We also all need to be personally more prepared for the unexpected eventualities that are a part of life on earth– earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, forest fires, and pandemics.  No government, state or federal, can be expected to rescue us from what nature deems we must endure.

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