If I have one complaint, it is that I wanted more.
Fauci: Expect The Unexpected is a book of wisdom from Anthony Fauci, medical doctor and head of the National Institute of Health who’s been working in public health for decades but who became a household name during the COVID pandemic.
This small book is compiled from short autobiographical sketches and clips from interviews and speeches the doctor has given. Rippling through the book is the wisdom that comes from someone who is educated, experienced and intent on sharing lessons learned. The book is organized so it delivers 10 lessons that Dr. Fauci thinks are important for how we ought to live as part of a global community, being responsible for our own actions but also serving humanity with what we do. I liked that the sketches show how he grew from a kid in the 1940s, seeing his mother’s reaction to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of WWII to learning how his research was affecting young, gay men in the 1980s when he was working to combat the AIDS crisis, both of those experiences teaching him empathy even for those who are different from us. I was most intrigued by the pages that contain stories from Fauci’s personal life – his tales of growing up in Brooklyn, getting a construction job on the very building where he wanted to attend medical school but not being able to enter because of his work clothes, and of course, stories about his work with former presidents, including Donald Trump, but also both Presidents Bush and even Ronald Reagan. While he must have worked across party lines, his political affiliations are not emphasized; instead, it is a lesson on how partnerships can evolve and what can be accomplished from them.
The style of the book is incredibly effective, I think, in that it formulates lessons from the statements Dr. Fauci has made so a reader can dip in and out of the stories to focus on one or another topic and reading the corresponding entries. While this is wisdom gleaned from a life in service as a medical doctor, the lessons are general enough that they can applicable to anyone – youthful or older, regardless of what aspect of society you inhabit. I wish this publication carried his endorsement, but the material feels very respectful of Fauci’s public persona. Kudos to the National Geographic Editors for achieving such a balanced and appealing presentation.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book from National Geographic Publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not otherwise compensated and the above represents my biased opinion.
About Fauci: Expect the Unexpected: Ten Lessons on Truth, Service, and the Way Forward
• Publisher: National Geographic (November 2, 2021)
• Hardcover: 96 pages
Compiled from hours of interviews drawn from the eponymous National Geographic documentary, this inspiring book from world-renowned infectious disease specialist Anthony Fauci shares the lessons that have shaped the celebrated doctor’s life philosophy, offering an intimate view of one of the world’s greatest medical minds as well as universal advice to live by. Before becoming the face of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and America’s most trusted doctor, Dr. Anthony Fauci had already devoted three decades to public service. Those looking to live a more compassionate and purposeful life will find inspiration in his unique perspective on leadership, expecting the unexpected, and finding joy in difficult times. With more than three decades spent combating some of the most dangerous diseases to strike humankind– AIDS, Ebola, COVID-19–Dr. Fauci has worked in daunting professional conditions and shouldered great responsibility. The earnest reflections in these pages offer a universal message on how to lead in times of crisis and find resilience in the face of disappointments and obstacles. Filled with inspiring words of wisdom, this profound book will offer readers a concrete path to a bright and hopeful future. Editor’s Note: Dr. Anthony Fauci had no creative control over this book or the film on which it is based. He was not paid for his participation, nor does he have any financial interest in the film or book release.