The Rationing: A Novel (Paperback)

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“Part present-day political satire, part Robin Cook thriller, and part pure entertainment.” ?Lee Woodruff, New York Times best-selling coauthor of In an Instant


America is in trouble—at the mercy of a puzzling pathogen. That ordinarily wouldn’t lead to catastrophe, thanks to modern medicine, but there’s just one problem: the government supply of Dormigen, the silver bullet of pharmaceuticals, has been depleted just as demand begins to spike. Originally published before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Rationing is set in the near future, and centers around a White House struggling to quell the crisis—and control the narrative. Working together, just barely, are a savvy but preoccupied president; a Speaker more interested in jockeying for position—and a potential presidential bid—than attending to the minutiae of disease control; a patriotic majority leader unable to differentiate a virus from a bacterium; a strategist with brilliant analytical abilities but abominable people skills; and, improbably, our narrator, a low-level scientist with the National Institutes of Health who happens to be the world’s leading expert in lurking viruses.


Little goes according to plan during the three weeks necessary to replenish the stocks of Dormigen. Some Americans will get the life-saving drug and others will not, and nations with their own supply soon offer aid—but for a price. China senses blood and a geopolitical victory, presenting a laundry list of demands that ranges from complete domination of the South China Sea to additional parking spaces at the UN, while India claims it can save the day for the U.S.


Political backstabbing, rank hypocrisy, and dastardly deception reign in this delightfully entertaining debut that presciently anticipated the COVID-19 crisis.



About the Author


Charles Wheelan is the author of the best-selling Naked Statistics and Naked Economics and is a former correspondent for the Economist. He teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his family.

Praise For…


A brilliant and bold novel. Get ready for twists and turns, exploring life and death decisions, and the intrigue, good and bad, of political leadership as the country searches to solve a pathogen crisis. This is an exciting and exhilarating read, and provides some needed lessons for our country today.
— Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst, ABC News
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393867589
ISBN-10: 0393867587
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: June 29th, 2021
Pages: 432
Language: English