Fareed Zakaria on Life After the Pandemic

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Soon after the coronavirus pandemic began, the author and CNN host Fareed Zakaria began sitting down early each morning to think, research and write, not about the unfolding crisis but about how the world might look after it passed. On this week’s podcast, he talks about the book that resulted, “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World.”

“What has happened over the last 50 years is, we have gotten increasingly confident about the power of science and medicine, so we’ve kind of lost sight of the effect that something like a plague, a pandemic, has,” Zakaria says. “And I think this was a mistake, because even with the vaccines and the therapies, as we are seeing, a plague has a unique effect on the world economy.” He calls the current pandemic “the most transformative event of our lifetimes,” something that is “simultaneously affecting almost every human being on the planet.”

The historian Margaret MacMillan visits the podcast to discuss her most recent book, “War: How Conflict Shaped Us,” one of the Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2020. MacMillan has written about specific wars in the past, but here she looks more broadly at the subject throughout human history, which led her to some new conclusions.

“What I hadn’t really got involved in or really understood,” MacMillan says, “was the debate about whether war is something that’s biologically driven — are we condemned to war because of something that evolution has left us with, or is war the product of culture? I found that whole debate fascinating, and I began to read quite a lot by sociologists, anthropologists and so on. I think I came down on the culture side: that we are programmed to war by our cultures, not so much by our biological natures.”

Also on this week’s episode, Gregory Cowles and John Williams talk about what they’re reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We’re Reading”:

“Other People’s Houses” by Lore Segal

“Kings County” by David Goodwillie

“Identical Strangers” by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to [email protected].

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