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To call 2021 a historic year is an understatement. But what’s less obvious is how to put the pandemic of 2020 in a historical context. What lessons can be learned about our response to past public health crises? Can these lessons be applied to the one we’re living through now, and what may lie ahead, post-Corona?
As we transition from this most unusual year, Dan checks in with Niall Ferguson. Niall is a historian and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and he’s the managing director of Greenmantle, a macroeconomic and geopolitical advisory firm. Niall is also the author of 15 books including The Square and the Tower: Networks and Power, from the Freemasons to Facebook.
From the earliest days of the pandemic, Niall assembled a slide deck to chronicle everything he was learning about the crisis as it unfolded and provided historical context for his analysis. Almost weekly, he’d update the deck and share it with friends and colleagues, which came to be known as the “Monster Deck” — now close to a thousand slides. It came to inform a lot of Dan’s thinking about Covid 19 and much of it can be found in a book he’s been working on during the pandemic, called Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe.
In today’s conversation, we’ll look back at 2020, as we look ahead to 2021.
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