COVID-19 is the biggest public health and economic disaster of our time. It has posed the same threat across the globe, yet countries have responded very differently and some have clearly fared much better than others. Peter Baldwin uncovers the reasons why in this definitive account of the global politics of pandemic. He shows that how nations responded depended above all on the political tools available - how firmly could the authorities order citizens' lives and how willingly would they be obeyed? In Asia, nations quarantined the infected and their contacts. In the Americas and Europe they shut down their economies, hoping to squelch the virus's spread. Others, above all Sweden, responded with a light touch, putting their faith in social consensus over coercion. Whether citizens would follow their leaders' requests and how soon they would tire of their demands were crucial to hopes of taming the pandemic.