The COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged the world for more than two years has produced enough stories of adventure and heroism to fill many books. As its subtitle indicates, “Cabin Fever: The Harrowing Journey of a Cruise Ship at the Dawn of a Pandemic” is an account of the Holland America cruise ship Zaandam during March to May 2020, as the pandemic exploded into global consciousness. It is a tale of peril, uncertainty, changing perceptions, erroneous decisions, tragedy, and death.

Authors Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin provide a detailed day-by-day account of life on the ship and related developments elsewhere. Their reporting reminds me of the historical writing of Erik Larson or of Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre — so thoroughly researched and filled with emotional content that it reads like a novel. Smith is an investigative reporter at Bloomberg Businessweek who extensively covered the news of COVID outbreaks on cruise ships. Franklin is an investigative journalist and author based in Chile.

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