Our Malady Book Summary - Our Malady Book explained in key points
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Our Malady summary

Timothy Snyder

Lessons in Liberty from a Hospital Diary

3.5 (233 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Our Malady by Timothy Snyder is a powerful and timely analysis of America's healthcare system. With striking anecdotes and insightful research, Snyder reveals the flaws and challenges of a system that undermines both individual and public health.

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    Our Malady
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    America’s health-care system is failing to do its job.

    December 29th, 2019, was almost the day the author, Timothy Snyder, died. Just after midnight, he was admitted into the emergency room of a New Haven hospital. He could barely move. His hands and feet tingled, and he had severe tremors. He didn’t know it at the time, but an abscess in his liver was pumping infectious bacteria into his bloodstream.

    It took an unacceptable nine hours for someone to read Snyder’s medical records properly, even though he’d had the foresight to bring them with him to the ER. Snyder’s appendix had been removed at the same hospital two weeks earlier. His surgeon had noted a lesion on his liver but failed to mention it to him. If the ER doctors had realized sooner, he would’ve been treated quickly and effectively. Instead, they downplayed his symptoms and suggested he had the flu, even when he started losing consciousness. As a result, he nearly died of sepsis. 

    The key message here is: America’s health-care system is failing to do its job.

    Despite its overall wealth, America is a sick nation. In recent years, life expectancy has actually dropped instead of increasing as it has in many other wealthy nations. According to a study conducted by Moody’s Analytics in 2019, US millennials are set to die younger than their parents or grandparents, even though they’re spending more on health care. Something is terribly wrong. 

    Medicine should extend people’s lives. Instead, Americans can expect to live an average of four years fewer than people in comparable countries. They’ll even be outlived by people in poorer countries like Barbados, Costa Rica, and Chile. These countries don’t have better doctors or knowledge. They have better health-care systems, which extend people’s lifespans.

    The novel coronavirus pandemic highlighted the systemic flaws in American health care. In other rich countries, like Germany and Japan, people received better treatment and had greater access to information about the virus, leading to fewer fatalities. These countries focused on health. America focused on profit.

    When a government doesn’t prioritize health, people pay with their lives. In America, the government's handling of the coronvirus had cost the nation 150,000 lives by June 2020. The blinks ahead will look at how and why this happened.


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    What is Our Malady about?

    Our Malady (2020) explores why the American health care system not only fails to keep people healthy but also denies their freedom. It identifies the shortcomings of the present system, the dire ramifications, and why other countries don’t suffer the same fate.

    Our Malady Review

    Our Malady (2021) by Timothy Snyder is an eye-opening exploration of the American healthcare system and an urgent call to action. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Offers a sobering analysis of the flaws and inequalities within the American healthcare system, shedding light on a pressing issue that affects us all.
    • Presents compelling arguments regarding the necessity of a reformed healthcare system, backed by extensive research and expertise.
    • Engages readers with its accessible writing and thought-provoking insights, making it not only informative but also emotionally resonant.

    Best quote from Our Malady

    If we have a right to pursue happiness, then we have a right to the care that allows us to do so.

    —Timothy Snyder
    example alt text

    Who should read Our Malady?

    • Truth-seeking Americans
    • Health-care personnel
    • The politically curious

    About the Author

    Timothy Snyder is an award-winning author and academic who focuses on the history of Central and Eastern Europe. His work has been translated into over 40 languages and has even inspired an opera, a rap song, and art.

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    Our Malady FAQs 

    What is the main message of Our Malady?

    The main message of Our Malady is a critique of American healthcare and a call for reform.

    How long does it take to read Our Malady?

    The reading time for Our Malady varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Our Malady a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Our Malady is a thought-provoking book that sheds light on the flaws in the American healthcare system. It is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in healthcare reform.

    Who is the author of Our Malady?

    The author of Our Malady is Timothy Snyder.

    What to read after Our Malady?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Our Malady, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely
    • Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg
    • Unscrewed by Jaclyn Friedman
    • Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder
    • Evicted by Matthew Desmond
    • Raising Critical Thinkers by Julie Bogart
    • Why Are We Yelling? by Buster Benson