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2020 cover art


Written by: Eric Klinenberg
Narrated by: Dan John Miller, Eric Klinenberg
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Publisher's Summary

A meticulously reported, character-driven, unforgettable investigation of a time when nothing was certain and everything was at stake, by the acclaimed sociologist and best-selling author Eric Klinenberg

“A gripping, deeply moving account of a signal year in modern history, told through the stories of seven ordinary people. Klinenberg’s narrative shows how the legacy of that year continues to shape us, our politics and our personal lives.”—Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies • "I can easily see this book being invaluable in the future."—Stuart Miller, Los Angeles Times

2020 will go down alongside 1914, 1929, and 1968 as one of the most consequential years in history. This riveting and affecting book is the first attempt to capture the full human experience of that fateful time.

At the heart of 2020 are seven vivid profiles of ordinary New Yorkers—including an elementary school principal, a bar manager, a subway custodian, and a local political aide—whose experiences illuminate how Americans, and people across the globe, reckoned with 2020. Through these poignant stories, we revisit our own moments of hope and fear, the profound tragedies and losses in our communities, the mutual aid networks that brought us together, and the social movements that hinted at the possibilities of a better world.

Eric Klinenberg vividly captures these stories, casting them against the backdrop of a high-stakes presidential election, a surge of misinformation, rising distrust, and raging protests. We move from the epicenter in New York City to Washington and London, where political leaders made the crisis so much more lethal than it had to be. We bear witness to epidemiological battles in Wuhan and Beijing, along with the initiatives of scientists, citizens, and policy makers in Australia, Japan, and Taiwan, who worked together to save lives.

Klinenberg allows us to see 2020—and, ultimately, ourselves—with unprecedented clarity and empathy. His book not only helps us reckon with what we lived through, but also with the challenges we face before the next crisis arrives.

"A masterful piece of rigorous journalism, rigorous sociology, and incredible story-telling."—Chris Hayes, MSNBC News

©2024 Eric Klinenberg (P)2024 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"In Eric Klinenberg’s excellent 2020, we are given both micro-incident—closely reported scenes from the lives of representative New Yorkers struggling through the plague year—and macro-comment: cross-cultural, overarching chapters assess broader social forces . . . Throughout, Klinenberg’s mixture of closeup witness and broad-view sociology is engrossing, and reminds this reader of the late Howard S. Becker’s insistence that the best sociology is always, in the first instance, wide-angle reporting. As we flow effortlessly from big picture to small, we learn from both." Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

"2020 is...a masterful piece of rigorous journalism, rigorous sociology, and incredible story-telling." —Chris Hayes, MSNBC News

"Covers an extraordinarily rich range of issues and insights, some of them familiar, others utterly fresh...One of the most striking expressions of America’s political brokenness that I’ve yet encountered." —Rick Perlstein, The American Prospect

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