American Health History

The well-regarded historian Niall Ferguson is our guest; his many books include "Civilization," "The Great Degeneration," and "The Ascent of Money." He joins us to discuss his newest book, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe," which seems especially timely in the wake of the annus horribilis that was 2020. Ferguson's book sets out to show why human beings are getting worse, not better, at handling disasters -- despite advancements in medicine, science, technology, etc.

Our guest on ST Medical Monday is journalist and author Larry Olmsted, who tells us about his latest book, "Fans: How Watching Sports Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Understanding." The book cites a wide range of new and recent studies on the topic of sports fandom, thus arguing that the more we root for a given sports team, the better our social, psychological, and physical health is likely to be -- and the more meaningful our personal relationships will be, and the more connected and happier we will feel overall.

Our guest is Robert Kolker, a bestselling author and journalist who has written for New York Magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times Magazine, Wired, and other publications. He joins us to discuss his fascinating new book, "Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family." It's a page-turning profile -- as much a detailed group biography as it is a keen work of science journalism -- of a certain post-WWII American family in which several of the family's twelve children suffered from acute schizophrenia.

As our current pandemic continues, we hear from historian John M. Barry, who wrote one of the definitive accounts of the worst American pandemic, the Influenza pandemic of 1918-19.