In 2022, Howard Burton launched the Pandemic Perspectives Project: a documentary film, podcast series and this engagingly candid collection of essays that chart his personal quest to make some sense of the COVID-19 pandemic through his interaction with a diverse array of 32 experts.

Directly inspired by the award-winning writer, physician and self-professed “biology watcher” Lewis Thomas, Howard takes us on a thought-provoking tour of a wide range of key societal issues, from biology to politics to contemporary morality. 

Howard dives into the theme of American exceptionalism, arguing that America actually is an exceptional nation, but not, significantly, in the way that most Americans think it is.  Pushing back against a society increasingly fragmented by a deliberately polarizing media, Howard urges Americans to discover the joys of simply finding things out, starting with critically examining many standard myths that most Americans unthinkingly cling to.

It’s no secret that the United Nations system is deeply bureaucratic and often largely ineffectual, but it’s worth pondering to what extent is any meaningful reform even possible in principle?  Somehow temporarily finding himself inside what is arguably the most superfluous of all UN organizations, Howard took the opportunity to critically examine to what extent UNESCO might, at least theoretically, be transformed for the better.

After close to a decade of an intensively brain-sapping life of academic administration, Howard elects to plunge himself and his family into the idealized world of rural France, and discovers a form of “the real world” that he hadn’t quite bargained for.

In vivid and compelling detail, Howard describes his remarkable odyssey of partnering with BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis to develop a pioneering new theoretical physics institute entirely from scratch.  Foreword by Nobel Laureate Roger Penrose.