This book is an examination of the manner in which American presidents respond to pandemics and other public health crises. Skidmore argues that presidential performance in dealing with emergencies and pandemics varies, but those who are informed, focused, and confident that government can work are most likely to be successful. As an example, Gerald Ford's "Swine Flu program" is widely derided as incompetent and politically motivated. Closer examination, however, suggests the contrary, demonstrating the potential of government to act quickly and effectively against public health emergencies, even when facing formidable obstacles. The American government has a mixed record ranging from excellent to unacceptable, even counterproductive, in dealing with emergency threats to life and health. Despite ideological arguments to the contrary, however, governments are important to effective responses, and in the American setting, presidential action is essential.