Nightmare Scenario ~ by Yasmeen Abutaleb

I got tired of politic books after Trump’s first impeachment trial and although I watched and read the news as carefully as usual, I had no desire to go more deeply into anything.  In January of 2021 I read Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World by Fareed Zakaria but that wasn’t really a “political” book.  

Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic that Changed History”
by Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta
Read by
Kirsten Potter
Rating: 8 / current events

Before that I read “The Great Influenza” by John M. Barry in November, 2020 because I was interested in that prior pandemic in relation to what we were enuring in 2020. But that was about 1918 and published in 2004, so that was history.  The last “current events/politics” type book I read was in August of 2019 when I read  Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide by Cass R. Sunstein.  I think I simply burned out on them.  

But this new release caught my eye.  I saw the author on a news show and the anchors talked the book up a bit, so I checked and yup available via Audible and the narrator sounded fine.  

The last 18 months have been so stressful in the US (or the world?)  Reading the book was mostly a review of some of what I (we) have lived over the last 18 or so months. There was new information, of course, and behind-the-scenes perspectives which were eye-opening to an extent. Getting the story in one volume of back-to-back incidents is amazing because sooo much happened in such a short time.  Decades of history happened in months of life.
The book focuses on Trump’s responses with the subtitle of “The Trump Administration’s Response” and that subject is covered in breadth and width – medium depth.  

I got some answers about the inflammatory and multi-faceted medical mask issue and the consequences of that dispute.  Then there was the testing problem and developing a reliable test to get out there as well as just getting it out there. Getting people to use or take it was another problem. There were important protests during this time which were mostly peaceful, but violence did occur – including incited by Trump. (Getting people together to solve problems is just NOT what Trump does.)

This is a mostly chronological telling so it’s easy to follow, but it’s a complex tale with many facets with no one in charge.  The authors’ idea is that Trump didn’t want to take responsibility and from what I’ve read and seen that sounds just about right.  Instead he made more messes with his tweets.  
I got more insight into Trump’s whole manner of governance and management. which is basically pretty shallow and combative and I’ve read quite a lot about it. 

Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci come off as being close to heroic although there is some tarnish. And there are many other players. But there’s no question who the main problem is/was.

And Trump wanted it all fixed (NOW!) so that he looked like a hero and nothing looked bad on him for the upcoming election. That was apparently his only interest.

 Abutaleb goes into a bit too much background on some of the major players (Fauci, Birx) At close to 500 pages, the book was unnecessarily long.

Such a major mess the US had on its hands.  A disaster really but “The Fifth Risk” by Michael Lewis showed how something like this was just waiting to happen from the time Trump was elected.

Many of these people/characters were playing power games but there were others trying to do their level best to protect the US. Those in the administration were primarily looking out for their own careers or financial interests while those in the Civil Service were simply trying to do the jobs they signed on for. The biggest trouble is that no one, power player or lowly lab tech or highest level diplomat, really knew what was going on or how to fix it so everyone just argued

Most recently I’ve been struck by Trump’s apparent penchant for violence – from the time of his early rallies where he promised to pay the legal costs of his supporters, should they need it, to the January 6 Insurrection. He not only plays “divide and conquer” games to manage his affairs and campaigns, he directly incites violence. It’s how he stays “in control.” And if he’s not in control then no one is. (This is both scary and sickening.)

I think this book may have had a more profound impact on me than I first thought. Perhaps the impact was from my pondering and putting it together with prior knowledge from outside the scope of the book.

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