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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

'It's a foreboding,' she said. 'A knowing that something is looming around the corner. Like how when the seasons change you can smell fall in the air right before the leaves change and the wind turns cold.'

In January 2020, as people started dying from a new virus in Wuhan, China, few really understood the magnitude of what was happening. Except, that is, a small group of scientific misfits who in their different ways had been obsessed all their lives with how viruses spread and replicated - and with why the governments and the institutions that were supposed to look after us, kept making the same mistakes time and again.

This group saw what nobody else did. A pandemic was coming. We weren't prepared.

The Premonition is the extraordinary story of a group who anticipated, traced and hunted the coronavirus; who understood the need to think differently, to learn from history, to question everything; and to do all of this fast, in order to act, to save lives, communities, society itself. It's a story about the workings of the human mind; about the failures and triumphs of human judgment and imagination. It's the story of how we got to now.

©2021 Michael Lewis (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Premonition

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great story let down by bad narration

Another classic by Lewis, who somehow seems to unearth the most interesting characters and unsung heroes.

Unfortunately this audiobook is let down by subpar performance, with the narrator frequently placing emphasis on the wrong words, altering the meaning of the story. It's so poorly done it makes me wonder whether they had a text-to-speech AI narrate it. Michael Lewis gave a far better performance when he read a chapter of this book on his own podcast - I wish he'd done the whole thing.

10 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Really?

Michael Lewis is one of my favourite authors, but sometimes I think I've become too accustomed to his style. I feel if he wrote an account of the development of the space programme, basically four scientist guys would have done the whole thing. (And maybe also a woman these days.) They would all be mavericks, working away on their own pet projects against the tide of everyone else's thinking. That's what we got in The Big Short - four guys saw the 2008 financial crisis looming, and nobody else. In this account we have a similar premise - a small group of scientists saw a pandemic coming and tried to raise the alarm with a Trump administration too dumb, stupid and obstinate to listen. Well, maybe, but I doubt it. Lewis does this, I feel, to simplify a very complex story, give it a plot, strong characters and a racy narrative. Usually it works, but this account slightly annoyed me, and nearly lost me when the British pandemic modeller, Neal Ferguson, was praised as being the best in the world. This is the guy who has forecast disaster on every pandemic in the last twenty years and has been massively wrong in every one. That fact wouldn't fit this story though, so it isn't mentioned. This made me wonder what else was being skimmed over or obscured?
I also dropped a star for the narration which I found a bit flat in interpretation, if not in tone. (In tone it was middle aged, middle class, middle of the road, like it was being read off an autocue for Good Morning America.) I am sure that there will be some great books written about Covid, but I'm not convinced this will be one of them. Disappointing.

8 people found this helpful

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Narration needs to be re-recorded

This is, first of all, a phenomenal book - and I hope as many people as possible read or listen to it as we seek to understand what has really happened to the world in the last year or so. However, the narration is absolutely not up to the standard of the writing. The narrator doesn't seem to have read the book before attempting to perform it - meaning there are many distracting slip-ups, and something in the way that it was recorded (it sounds like it was recorded over zoom!) is sub-par. I think the narrator has a great voice, and I'm sure she could do a great second take - but that's what this brilliant book deserves.

6 people found this helpful

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terrible voice artist

haven't got 10% through it and can't...sounds like Google or Alexa is narrating...horribly off-putting and not disclosed before buying

6 people found this helpful

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Awful narration, simply unbearable.

Just started the book and as such can’t comment on the content, but I can’t possible put myself through anymore of the narration. I have never heard economics pronounced the way it is in the audiobook, took me about 5 seconds just to reconstruct her pronunciation , the emphasise on some words and in sentences is all wrong. Will be returning and buying the hardback.

4 people found this helpful

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not his best but worth reading

the content has some interrsting people but the narrator sounds too much like an automated phone voice meaning that the mind wanders

3 people found this helpful

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Disappointing narration

Has the potential to be a great listen.
But I agree with others who have reviewed - shocking narration, it does sound like AI, with poor cadence and mis-placed emphasis on almost every word.

As a result the story doesn’t flow. It feels difficult to follow and jerky.

They need to re-read the entire thing to do this any justice! Poor quality from Audible here.

2 people found this helpful

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Bit of a “curate’s egg”

Good in parts. The narrator was poor. I had heard the author reading a chapter and he was excellent. I don’t know why he wasn’t chosen to read his own book when he’s got his own podcast!

P.S. Ms Ojo, please remember the word ‘twenty’ has a second ‘t’ in it and should be pronounced as such, instead of “twenny”.

2 people found this helpful

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A captivating book

very well written and an amazing story about incredible people who had a vital role in the pandemic response that you won't have heard about otherwise

1 person found this helpful

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It this one is made into a movie then it will need

Haven't read the Big Short or Moneyball but enjoyed the films, however this Lewis effort falls way short. Completely US-centric.
Scratch that. 95% California-centric. It feels like a vindictive mega-tweet against various people in the US medical establishment that I personally had never heard of. It also tries to canonise another bunch of people who again I had never been aware of and who I doubt were particularly ahead of the game compared to their contemporaries in Europe.
It actually feels like the Lewis has talked to 4 or 5 people and has decided that they are the heroes of the pandemic, but you are left wondering if that is primarily in their minds.
What I could not judge was whether the book was truly poor or lack of awareness in the narration was the real culprit. It was woeful.
To be balanced there were some interesting stories in the book and I am sure many of the people concerned played positive roles in the management of the pandemic. The co-morbidity role of Donald Trump is well portrayed as is the lack of a cohesive CDC response but Lewis misses the mark in producing a compelling story of the last year. It this one is made into a movie then it will need a couple of rewrites.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Diane Jacobson
  • 26-02-22

Narration

The content was fascinating but the narration was really poor. The narrator doesn’t seem to grasp how to pause in the correct places and really detracted from the book which is a great pity

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  • David Walker
  • 10-12-21

A well-told case study

This is Lewis's normal tasty and nutritious fare, served up beautifully by narrator Ojo. Her tone pairs perfectly with his writing.

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  • Joao
  • 14-10-21

Horrible narration

As others have noted, it feels like it’s read by AI, some sort of text to speech. Its painful to listen to, this has never happened to me. I’ve tried to return it but was unable to, but I’m really not sure what’s going on. There’s no way this is meant to sound like this.

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  • David W
  • 22-06-21

Classic Mike Lewis - VERY enjoyable.

Reads like a thriller. Unbelievable how fragmented the US healthcare system is and how badly the Federal government behaved. A few heroes come to the fore.