Photo: Courtesy of Damian Paletta


The Trump Administration and COVID-19

A close look at the first year of the pandemic from BC alum and Washington Post editor Damian Paletta '99.

In April 2020, when most people were grappling with the onset of the pandemic, Washington Post journalists Damian Paletta ’99 and Yasmeen Abutaleb got to work.

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The mounting crisis combined their areas of coverage perfectly: Paletta is the Post’s economics editor and Abutaleb reports on health policy. The pair spent the next year or so interviewing more than 180 people with knowledge of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response, from White House officials to infectious disease experts. Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic that Changed History is the fruit of these labors. The book, which became a bestseller, examines the first year of the pandemic through the lens of the Trump White House, taking readers behind closed doors from the first COVID-19 cases in China until the final days of the presidency and giving context to the major headlines of the time.

Untangling fact from fiction was difficult. Paletta said that many sources they interviewed were cagey, and Trump himself canceled a long-planned interview with the authors. But by reviewing thousands of internal documents, text messages, and emails, Paletta and Abutaleb were able to deliver a definitive account of Trump’s response to the pandemic and of the administration’s many missteps. The task was crucial, Paletta said, in order to not “let people off the hook” for the decisions they made. “Yasmeen and I kept coming back to the fact that it was just so important for us to get this right because so many lives had been lost and so much had been destroyed,” he said. “We really owed it to readers to sort things out.”


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Nazis of Copley Square: The Forgotten Story of the Christian Front by Charles R. Gallagher, SJ
Europe is the setting for most accounts of Nazi history. But in his new book, BC Associate Professor of History Charles R. Gallagher, SJ, chronicles the rise of the Christian Front, a group led by East Coast Catholics and headquartered in Boston, and its attempt leading up to and during World War II to install in the U.S., as Gallagher describes it, a “dictatorship that would eliminate Communists and Jews.”

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The Human Element: A Time Capsule from the Anthropocene by James Balog ’74
Photographer James Balog has been capturing nature for more than forty years. His work’s focus has evolved over the decades, most recently to showcase the catastrophic effects of human-led climate change. The Human Element comprises 350 of Balog’s most striking shots—of everything from endangered species to construction sites—and companion essays.

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Lived Religion in Latin America: An Enchanted Modernity by Gustavo Morello, SJ
In his latest book, BC Associate Professor of Sociology Gustavo Morello, SJ, argues the practice of religion has not died in the modern era—it’s simply changed. Morello’s bookis the culmination of the six years he spent studying how believers and nonbelievers in Latin America find spirituality, whether at church, in nature, through tattoos, or online.

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Catch Us When We Fall by Juliette Fay ’84
The sixth novel from Massachusetts-based writer Juliette Fay follows Cass Macklin, a pregnant woman struggling with alcoholism and homelessness after the death of her partner, Ben. Desperate to recover, Cass asks Ben’s brother Scott, a Red Sox player, for help. It’s a story of redemption, but also, as Fay said in a recent interview, “about the beginning of a family.”

Illustration of Ethan Sullivan

  Illustration: Joel Kimmel


All Adults Here by Emma Straub

“My go-to source for new and inspiring books has been the O’Neill Library’s ‘Pop Collection.’ One recent title I enjoyed is this beautifully written novel. It is the story of three generations of a family where the roles are often reversed, and the insights on family, love, loss, and regret are very real and very sharp.”

Ethan Sullivan, senior associate dean for undergraduates at the Carroll School of Management

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