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Pandemic, Inc.

Chasing the Capitalists and Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick

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For readers of War Dogs and Bad Blood, an explosive look inside the rush to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic, from the award-winning ProPublica reporter who saw it firsthand.

In 2020, the United States federal government spent over $7 billion on medical protective wear, yet as COVID-19 swept the nation, life-saving equipment like masks, gloves, and ventilators were in impossibly short supply.

In this brilliant nonfiction thriller, award-winning ProPublica investigative reporter J. David McSwane takes us behind the scenes to reveal how traders, contractors, and healthcare companies used one of the darkest moments in American history to fill their pockets. Determined to uncover how this was possible, he spent the last year on private jets and in secret warehouses, traveling from California to Chicago to Washington DC, to interview both the most treacherous of profiteers and the victims of their crimes.

Pandemic, Inc. is the story of the fraudster who signed a million-dollar contract with the government to provide lifesaving PPE, and yet never came up with a single mask. The Navy admiral at the helm of the national hunt for additional medical resources. The Department of Health whistleblower who championed masks early on and was silenced by the government and conservative media. And the politician who callously slashed federal emergency funding and gutted the federal PPE stockpile.

Winner of the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, McSwane connects the dots between backdoor deals and the spoils systems to provide the definitive account of how this pandemic was so catastrophically mishandled. Shocking and revelatory, Pandemic, Inc. exposes a system that is both deeply rigged, and singularly American.

J. David McSwane is a reporter in ProPublica’s Washington, DC, office. Previously, he was an investigative reporter for The Dallas Morning News and the Austin-American Statesman. McSwane’s reporting has spurred new laws and state and federal criminal investigations; forced belt-tightening lawmakers to invest in social programs; and won awards including Harvard’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize, a Scripps Howard award, an IRE award, and the Peabody.

“Throughout the pandemic, Americans have received mixed and often outright contradictory messages as to why the pandemic happened: climate change; an ill-prepared government; irresponsible citizens; Big Pharma. Award-winning Pro Publica reporter J. David McSwane has the answers, and he tells the chilling story of how the government, the healthcare industry, and the American people were exploited. With the narrative verve of The Shock Doctrine and countless firsthand accounts from profiteers, government officials, and victims, McSwane exposes a corruption that left millions of Americans sick. This book will sit on shelves alongside Naomi Klein, James B. Stewart, and Michael Lewis.”

—Julia C., VP, Publisher, on Pandemic, Inc.