Who's in Charge?
Leadership during Epidemics, Bioterror Attacks, and Other Public Health Crises, 2nd Edition
by Laura H. Kahn, MD, MPH, MPP
April 2020, 235pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Paperback: 978-1-4408-7817-6
$33, £26, 29€, A46
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7818-3
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

In 2020, COVID-19 spread rapidly from China to the rest of the globe, bringing disease, fear, and death to nearly every country on Earth. Many of the globe’s leaders have struggled to respond to the challenge, showing that who is in charge matters.

With a new preface assessing leadership responses to the coronavirus pandemic, this text explores leadership problems that can develop during such public health crises as the 2001 anthrax attacks, 2003 SARS epidemic, and Mad Cow Disease epidemic of the 1980s–1990s.

A threat to public health, such as a rampaging virus, is no time for a muddled chain of command and contradictory decision-making. Who’s In Charge? Leadership during Epidemics, Bioterror Attacks, and Other Public Health Crises, re-issued with a new preface assessing leadership during the COVID-19 outbreak, explores the crucial relationships among political leaders, public health officials, and journalists to see why leadership confusion develops. As the problematic response to COVID-19 has once again shown, the reluctance of politicians to risk alarm can run counter to the public health need to prepare for worse cases.

Many leaders will seek high visibility during a public health crisis, but politicians are not medical experts, and the more they speak, the more they risk disseminating harmful information. How to achieve the right balance is the essence of this book. Beginning by looking at the overarching issues of leadership and public health administration, it then examines in depth five emergencies: the 2001 anthrax attacks, the 1993 cryptosporidium outbreaks, the 2003 SARS outbreak, the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease crisis, and the battle against Mad Cow Disease.


  • First-person accounts from leaders involved in actual early-21st-century crises, as well as leading experts, scientists, and others
  • Primary documents including excerpts from official reports and the medical literature
  • Chronologies of early 21st-century public health emergencies
  • A comprehensive index organized by disease and by individuals involved in emergency response
Laura H. Kahn, MD, MPH, MPP is a physician and research scholar in the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. She writes monthly online columns on medicine, public health, and biosecurity issues for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (http://www.thebulletin.org).

Praeger Security International

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Covering global hot spots from Iran to Venezuela and subjects ranging from terrorism and cyber warfare to food security, books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, academic researchers, journalists, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth analysis and international perspectives that are unavailable in the mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and policymakers as well as for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


• Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
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