A fascinating look into the life of a state surgeon general and how his public health decisions provide a blueprint for fearless leadership and better national health policy.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo shares the inspiring story of how he came to be who he is. After experiencing abuse as a child, Dr. Ladapo was incapable of connecting emotionally with other people. He was dissociated from virtually everything in his life and numbly powered through college, medical school, and residency to become a doctor and university professor. It wasn’t until he fell in love with his wife that he was forced to come face-to-face with the enormous emotional and spiritual disruption caused by his deeply buried trauma. Just before the pandemic, Dr. Ladapo worked with a former Navy Seal who used a mix of ancient disciplines and modern techniques to help free him from this trauma—and subsequently, his fear.
When the pandemic hit Los Angeles, Dr. Ladapo found himself well-equipped to observe the panic and fear that overtook the hospital where he was working—and the country—without becoming part of it. From this state of emotional clarity, he recognized that it was too late to take any public health measures that would significantly change the deadliness of the pandemic, and that it was more important to face the challenge squarely and focus on building capacity to treat patients without destroying society in the process. His message that panic, fear, and politics were fueling harmful decisions—like disavowing the possibility that hydroxychloroquine could effectively treat COVID-19—made him the target of fierce criticism.
In Transcend Fear: Mindful Leadership in Public Health, Dr. Ladapo describes his views on public health restrictions, early home treatment, and COVID-19 vaccines, along with how Florida officials made public health decisions that set it apart from other states—and nations. Based on this experience, Dr. Ladapo explains how states can make better public health decisions in the future, recommending that health officials obtain training in decision analysis and expand their consciousness of how fear can shape perspectives and create dangerous outcomes—particularly during a crisis.
“In two years of interviewing public health officials, Dr. Joe Ladapo was the most impressive I met, and the most decent. I suspect it won’t be long before every American knows his name.”
“This gripping biographical narrative lets the world understand the complex reality that has unfolded in the life of Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD. He stands as an impressive physical and intellectual force yet has been formed and molded into a respectful, careful, and quietly courageous leader in public health. The narrative quickly brings the reader through the life of Ladapo, his family, and Governor Ron DeSantis as characters working to save Floridians and the nation at large from the catastrophic federal response to the pandemic that has unfolded before our very eyes. Ladapo is a wonderful writer and has taken brave steps in disclosure that many public figures could not bring themselves to do in spoken words or print. This book will stand as an important inflection point for Dr. Ladapo and America’s public health community at a time of continued crisis and upheaval in our country. So, sit back and enjoy this wonderful story about one of America’s finest heroes in contemporary history.”
—Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH, coauthor of Courage to Face COVID-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Biopharmaceutical Complex
“I searched the nation for ethical and honorable physicians to tell the American people the real public health truth. By reviewing decades of research prior to Covid and observing real-time scientific data, Dr. Ladapo spoke boldly and accurately. He reminded us that masks are unable to stop the spread of a tiny respiratory virus; he reminded us that early treatment is always superior to negligence; and he reminded us of Public Health 101: locking down healthy people is never going to be an effective—or legal—public health measure. Dr. Ladapo was different because he refused to delegate his personal responsibility to think critically—even in the face of overwhelming pressure to follow the herd.”
—Simone Gold, MD, JD, founder of America’s Frontline Doctors and CEO of GoldCare™ Health & Wellness
“Joe Ladapo has been one of very few public voices of reason throughout the COVID pandemic. While other leaders in the field of public health have panicked, forgotten their training, and allowed their thinking to be clouded by fear, he has consistently demanded that we look at the actual evidence, and do a careful weighing of benefits and harms before putting in place massively disruptive public health interventions. With Joe at the center of Florida’s public health decision making, it is not hard to understand why the state has come out of the pandemic looking so good.”
—Sebastian Rushworth, MD, author of Covid: Why Most of What You Know Is Wrong
About the Author
Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD is the surgeon general of Florida and professor at University of Florida College of Medicine. He received his MD from Harvard Medical School and a PhD in Health Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Ladapo worked as an associate professor of general internal medicine and a health policy researcher at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. He lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and children.