Peter Suderman Reviews Overcoming Obamacare and America's Bitter Pill

How the president's signature law came into effect, and what might come next


Near the beginning of America's Bitter Pill, journalist Steven Brill describes an episode in which he was whisked through a hospital on the way to a major heart surgery. His book, he then promises, will be a "roller-coaster story of how Obamacare happened, what it means, what it will fix, what it won't fix, and what it means to people like me on that gurney consuming the most personal, most fear-inducing products-the ones meant to keep us alive."

This is an exaggeration; the narrative is less of a rapid roller-coaster thrill ride and more of a long journey on a rickety wagon. But it is accurate in the sense that Brill's book is largely focused on the "what" of Obamacare. Although he frames his text as a chronological narrative, and though it contains scattered moments of tension and drama, it is chiefly concerned with collecting and arranging for easy consumption the mind-numbing litany of details that informed the law's creation. Brill is always perfectly clear and at times even evocative in his scene setting, but his book is best understood as a compendium of Obamacare minutiae, writes Peter Suderman.