Aurélien Rousseau

The Wound and the Recovery Crises from Within the State’s Black Box Publication date : September 28, 2022

Aurélien Rousseau, a former history professor and ENA graduate with an atypical career path, was deputy chief of staff to Prime Ministers Manuel Valls and Bernard Cazeneuve from 2015 to 2017. In 2018, he was appointed Director General of the Ile-de-France Regional Health Agency (ARS) and organised the fight against Covid. He has been chief of staff to the Prime Minister since May 2022.
26 January 2020. The first plane from Wuhan landed in Roissy. Aurélien Rousseau, the Ile-de-France ARS director, who headed up the Paris health system, was there to oversee the first repatriation flight.
His book is a behind-the-scenes look at crisis management. It is about Covid, but also other emergency situations, such as the Notre-Dame fire and the unprecedented health issues it entailed.
During the pandemic, everyone locked down, clapped for carers and sometimes criticised those in charge. Aurélien Rousseau was in the thick of it. He explains what it was like for those responsible for organising the battle: ensuring there were enough beds for the sick, enough medical personnel, enough masks, enough respirators... Ensuring that nothing was lacking because any failure would be fatal.
He describes how the public response to the epidemic was constructed, between trial and error, rapid adaptation and innovation. He opens up the State’s black box for readers and discusses the intense solidarity and devotion that united caregivers, the administration and politicians. He recounts how hard it was making decisions and communicating in such uncertain times. He recalls the obstacles and solutions, the constant pressure, the often unfair criticism and the fear: fear of the virus, fear of not being able to cope.
A very personal tone and an often poignant account: a remarkable and raw testimony about a crisis which has inflicted deep wounds, from which we now have to bounce back, since it has led to a democratic appropriation of public health issues.

A well-paced and well-written account, with poignant descriptions of people and situations, by someone who spent many months in intensive care as a patient himself.
A first-hand testimony about how the government organised and experienced the pandemic, the challenges of institutional communication, etc., with a concrete and very direct description of the action taken by the government and its agents, as well as its principles and methods.