The Rationing: Book summary and reviews of The Rationing by Charles Wheelan

The Rationing

by Charles Wheelan

The Rationing by Charles Wheelan X
The Rationing by Charles Wheelan
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    464 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Political backstabbing, rank hypocrisy, and dastardly deception reign in this delightfully entertaining political satire, sure to lift one's spirits far above the national stage.

America is in trouble―at the mercy of a puzzling pathogen. That ordinarily wouldn't lead to catastrophe, thanks to modern medicine, but there's just one problem: the government supply of Dormigen, the silver bullet of pharmaceuticals, has been depleted just as demand begins to spike.

Set in the near future, The Rationing centers around a White House struggling to quell the crisis―and control the narrative. Working together, just barely, are a savvy but preoccupied president; a Speaker more interested in jockeying for position―and a potential presidential bid―than attending to the minutiae of disease control; a patriotic majority leader unable to differentiate a virus from a bacterium; a strategist with brilliant analytical abilities but abominable people skills; and, improbably, our narrator, a low-level scientist with the National Institutes of Health who happens to be the world's leading expert in lurking viruses.

Little goes according to plan during the three weeks necessary to replenish the stocks of Dormigen. Some Americans will get the life-saving drug and others will not, and nations with their own supply soon offer aid―but for a price. China senses blood and a geopolitical victory, presenting a laundry list of demands that ranges from complete domination of the South China Sea to additional parking spaces at the UN, while India claims it can save the day for the U.S.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"An entertaining political satire that follows the handling of a national medical crisis both in the White House and in the lab...the pages generally flutter by quickly, fueled by the political heat and Wheelan's smooth, workmanlike prose." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] race-against-the-clock satire....Wheelan draws deeply on his intimate knowledge of the world of governance and politics to create his first novel, an eminently credible tale of a worst-case scenario that one hopes never comes to pass." - Booklist

"The plot and characters are not especially unique, but readers looking to explore challenging contemporary topics with just a touch of speculative fiction's distancing effect will find this well worth a look." - Publishers Weekly

"A brilliant and bold novel. Get ready for twists and turns, exploring life and death decisions, and the intrigue, good and bad, of political leadership as the country searches to solve a pathogen crisis. This is an exciting and exhilarating read, and provides some needed lessons for our country today." - Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst, ABC News

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Author Information

Charles Wheelan

Charles Wheelan is the author of the best-selling Naked Statistics and Naked Economics and is a former correspondent for The Economist. He teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his family.

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