kode adsense disini
Hot Best Seller

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

Availability: Ready to download

At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease. Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research and now revised to reflect the growing danger of the avian flu, The Great Influenza is ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy, which provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon. John M. Barry has written a new afterword for this edition that brings us up to speed on the terrible threat of the avian flu and suggest ways in which we might head off another flu pandemic.


Compare
kode adsense disini

At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease. Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research and now revised to reflect the growing danger of the avian flu, The Great Influenza is ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy, which provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon. John M. Barry has written a new afterword for this edition that brings us up to speed on the terrible threat of the avian flu and suggest ways in which we might head off another flu pandemic.

30 review for The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    Pandemics recur, just as history repeats itself, and it´s all simply a question of how much can be learned from it and how far technology has marched on. They were at war, so they couldn´t tell that there were outbreaks, only the neutral Spain could say it without the danger of demotivating the population. Today there are mostly just trade wars anymore, but the rules have stayed the same and looking at the potential immense economical damage, the intuition of those trying to hide outbreaks was Pandemics recur, just as history repeats itself, and it´s all simply a question of how much can be learned from it and how far technology has marched on. They were at war, so they couldn´t tell that there were outbreaks, only the neutral Spain could say it without the danger of demotivating the population. Today there are mostly just trade wars anymore, but the rules have stayed the same and looking at the potential immense economical damage, the intuition of those trying to hide outbreaks was right. The influence of such pandemics on human, primate, mammal, and rodent evolution must have been immense, as wiping out huge parts of the population or even the whole population until extinction, and might have happened many times. Without samples and more advanced technology to detect virus DNA and RNA in archeology, or to find the right fossils, it will long stay unclear how massive the impact on the development of higher life forms on the planet might have been. The differences between 1920 and 2020 are so immense that it takes time to realize how real and ever more realistic this danger is, because we tend to believe that it can´t get so bad: Medicine was very primitive, but we didn´t really come so much closer to a solution in preventing outbreaks and finding cures. They didn´t have cars, planes, anything to spread it worldwide or just in a nation with such a speed as today. No freeways, just trains and some roads with horses on them. As long as the horses didn't get it, the spread was very slow. Fewer people having not so much contact with another. Just telephones to communicate, nothing to coordinate the efforts of a state or even a whole continent. A large question is what population group is most affected and if, when the virus has found its prime target, it won´t mutate again and switch the victim again. The book is not just about the Spanish flu, but also about the doctors and researches that tried to deal with it with methods that seem medieval compared to nowadays standards and by mixing the historical facts with these protagonists, it becomes very vivid for a nonfiction title. It has a bit much redundancy and it would be a five star if the author had put more focus on not repeating himself and telling very similar stories, wildly jumping between geography, personal stories, and the medicine of those days, making it all a bit blurry and unnecessary complicated to follow. Even if nowadays governments wouldn´t be incompetent, the human factor alone is highly disturbing. Just some people who are immune to rudimentary hygiene rules and logical arguments are enough, and guess what one little piglet that refuses to wash hands, sneeze in the crook of the arm, etc. could do for spreading diseases. Not to speak of antisocial psychos who do it on purpose, try to get it, and spread it. We didn´t write our own history, nature in the form of plagues did a lot of it and it would be arrogant and dangerous to believe that we are now so highly advanced and have so much fancy technology (and it´s a techno optimist who is saying that) that we are invulnerable, as if we already had nanobots patrolling each body and sending signals to produce individualized vaccines as soon as any invader is detected. But we aren´t there and the incompetence, arrogance, and idiocy of the Western governments will cost many lives now and in the future, until technology will eradicate the last plagues, what is just a question of time, not of if. There might even be already the potential for producing and developing new vaccines, testing methods, and preventive measures. But the pharma companies make no money with developing cures for plagues that might never occur and the state has no interest in investing in protecting its citizens, although this could even be seen as military research where a bit of money is invested in general. Why it´s even not possible to produce enough test kits or establish a global network of testing stations that monitor the world or to have intelligent plans for pandemics or to listen to experts or to not worsen the situation with polemics and fake news or to quarantine early enough or… but, as said, the politicians are like: „Lalalala…..ignoring experts…..yada yada yada…. Stupid decision stupid decision stupid decision“, while unnecessary piles of corpses are exponentially growing. Some links dealing with the current pandemic: CNN live updates https://edition.cnn.com/asia/live-new... John Hopkins CSSE world map https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/ap... Youtube statistics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgylp... A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pandemic

  2. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    “Epidemiological evidence suggest that a new influenza virus originated in Haskell County, Kansas, early in 1918. Evidence further suggests that this virus traveled east across the state to a huge army base, and from there to Europe. Later it began its sweep through North America, through Europe, through South America, through Asia and Africa, through isolated islands in the Pacific, through all the wide world. In its wake followed a keening sound that rose from the throats of mourners like the “Epidemiological evidence suggest that a new influenza virus originated in Haskell County, Kansas, early in 1918. Evidence further suggests that this virus traveled east across the state to a huge army base, and from there to Europe. Later it began its sweep through North America, through Europe, through South America, through Asia and Africa, through isolated islands in the Pacific, through all the wide world. In its wake followed a keening sound that rose from the throats of mourners like the wind…” - John M. Barry, The Great Influenza This book is what happens when I combine a smart phone, Amazon’s one-click shopping, and my low-key binge drinking. I had just sat down in my favorite chair for my weekly wine-drunk. No sooner had I dropped some ice cubes into a pint-glass full of club soda and cheap chardonnay, than Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion began playing on HBO. I never intended to watch the movie. Based on the trailers, I had decided that it was too much like the movie Outbreak, except with fewer monkeys and 100% less helicopter chases involving Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding, Jr. Still, people who drink Yellow Tail out of pint glasses can’t be choosers, so I let the film unspool. Like all of Soderbergh’s works, Contagion was slick, engaging, and sharply edited. As the all-star cast began dying from a mysterious and highly contagious disease, and as I started to get a buzz from that pint of cheap wine, it occurred to me that I was suddenly, desperately interested in infectious diseases. So I bought John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza, about the so-called Spanish flu of 1918 that killed as many as 100 million people. Unlike influenza, my interest in the topic quickly wore off. It was only several months later that I finally got around to reading it. Totally worth the drunken purchase! Barry’s epic is a work of incredible scope and depth. It combines accessible science/medical writing, perceptive character sketches, and telling human anecdotes to corral a story – a global pandemic – that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the written word. (Film is the more obvious medium for pandemic stories. All you need is a computerized map of the world in a neutral color. Then, have that map start to turn red while someone intones, “24 hours…48 hours…72 hours…”). In Barry’s words, the 1918 influenza pandemic “was the first great collision between nature and modern science.” To that end, he begins the book with a brisk, wide-ranging, and fascinating history of medicine, gradually narrowing his focus to the state of American medicine at the turn of the century. It was, in a word, deplorable. There was no consistency in education, no overarching standards, no pursuit of progress. While American doctors were still pondering the leech, Europeans were making the advances: In Europe, governments, universities, and wealthy donors helped support medical research. In the United States, no government, institution, or philanthropist even began to approach a similar level of support. As the Hopkins medical school was opening, American theological schools enjoyed endowments of $18 million, while medical school endowments totaled $500,000… The future of American medicine got a bit brighter with William Welch and the founding of the Johns Hopkins Medical School. Welch is one of the titanic figures in American science, a stethoscope-wearing J. Robert Oppenheimer – not necessarily a great scientist or discoverer, but a manager nonpareil. It was Welch who would lead the U.S. response to the influenza outbreak. The Great Influenza attempts to tell a huge story. An outbreak is hard to contain in a book (and also, obviously, in real life). It is not a singular event, but a worldwide phenomenon; it does not happen in a single place, to a single person, but to everyplace, and millions of persons. Accordingly, the narrative diffuses once Barry begins the story of the flu itself (ground zero of the pandemic is hotly debated; Barry pinpoints Haskell County, Kansas, as the originating spot). Of necessity, the story begins to hop around a lot, to locations all over the globe. There are a lot of staggering numbers (x numbers infected, y numbers dead) interspersed with illustrative stories that provide a micro view of a global disaster. For instance, Barry relates the story of an Army camp commander (World War I was the mechanism by which this disease spread so far and wide) who committed suicide after failing to take proper steps to protect and quarantine his troops. One of Barry’s real gifts is to explain medicine and biology to a part-time drunk, full-time nonscientist such as myself. I am a concrete thinker, a literalist. My ability to imagine things I can’t see – such as biological processes – is surpassed only by my ability to do one-armed pushups while shaving. Using metaphor and analogy, Barry does a wonderful job of providing both the hard science and a simple explanation to interpret it. For instance, Barry explains how the immune response to influenza ultimately made healthy young adults the flu’s greatest victim: Macrophages and “natural killer” cells – two kinds of white blood cells that seek and destroy all foreign invaders… – patrol the entirety of the respiratory tract and lungs. Cells in the respiratory tracts secrete enzymes that attack bacteria and some viruses (including influenza) or block them from attaching to tissue beneath the mucus, and these secretions also bring more white cells and antibacterial enzymes into a counterattack; if a virus is the invader, white blood cells also secrete interferon, which can block viral infection. All these defenses work so well that the lungs themselves, although directly exposed to the outside air, are normally sterile. But when the lungs do become infected, other defenses, lethal and violent defenses, come into play. For the immune system is at its core a killing machine. It targets infecting organisms, attacks with a complex arsenal of weapons – some of them savage weapons – and neutralizes or kills the invader. The balance, however, between kill and overkill, response and overresponse, is a delicate one. The immune system can behave like a SWAT team that kills the hostage along with the hostage taker, or the army that destroys a village to save it. The 1918 influenza pandemic killed between 21 million (according to a 1927 AMA study) and 100 million people (according to Nobel laureate and influenza researcher Macfarlane Burnet). That meant that about 5% of the population of the world died. It is a terrifying proposition. Using today’s population numbers, the fatalities would be between 70 and 300 million people. With all the different flu scares we’ve had, Barry was eventually obligated (perhaps by his publishers, at gunpoint) to update his book to remind us how we’re all going to die. Like all “new afterwords,” the one included at the end of The Great Influenza feels halfhearted and unnecessary. If you’ve paid attention at all to the hundreds of preceding pages, it is not difficult to extrapolate what might happen during a present-day outbreak of an infectious disease or out-of-control virus. The thing about The Great Influenza is that it is almost always relevant. Always, there is a disease, somewhere in the world, read to spring forth. In the years since this was first published in 2004, we’ve had Ebola, SARS, and Zika to terrify us. It’s hard to know what will crop up next, and whether this will be the one to turn the map all red. Ultimately, I don’t think I was half as terrified as I was supposed to be, mainly because I have a lot of other existential threats to worry about: cancer; heart disease; wine poisoning. Thus, I rate my chance of dying in a deadly pandemic as relatively low. I also feel that the world is more attune to these things than ever before. We no longer believe in miasma theory or the humors of our bodies. Conversely, we believe in quarantining, washing hands, and reverse-engineering both pathogens and the journeys they travel. Still, we are living – you might have noticed – in an extremely knitted-together world. All it takes is a handful of people leaving an uncontrolled hot zone, hopping on an airplane, and starting an exponential event that only Hollywood could love, and no one can halt. (Update, March 31, 2020: As I write this, I am in the third week of self-quarantine, following a shelter-in-place order necessitated by the spread of Covid-19. The coronavirus has definitely made the penultimate paragraph of my original review look like the work of a prize fool. Turns out, I should have been more worried about dying in a pandemic. Certainly, being stuck at home has drastically increased my risk of wine poisoning. Of course, when I wrote about the advanced state of science - back in 2013 - I had no idea how many people on this earth didn't believe in science. More to the point, I did not know that there were so many people so militantly anti-science that they would go to a hospital in the midst of a pandemic to take videos, all in an attempt to disprove a deadly, worldwide virus as some massive hoax. On second thought, maybe I was right. Maybe the virus isn't the real danger. Maybe the thing we should all fear is ourselves).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    I am really surprised at the number of positive reviews this book got, both professional and consumer. I am currently a little more than halfway through and feel the need to write something in case I don't finish it and lose the desire. Before critiquing Barry and his writing style, or lack thereof, his editor, Wendy Wolf deserves special mention. This is the first book I have ever read in which I have made special note of the editor and will refuse to read anything she works on in the future. I I am really surprised at the number of positive reviews this book got, both professional and consumer. I am currently a little more than halfway through and feel the need to write something in case I don't finish it and lose the desire. Before critiquing Barry and his writing style, or lack thereof, his editor, Wendy Wolf deserves special mention. This is the first book I have ever read in which I have made special note of the editor and will refuse to read anything she works on in the future. I was sorely tempted to tally the number of repetitions of key phrases, pieces of information and entire narrative sequences. Perhaps editing this book was too daunting a task to do it well and still preserve the intent and message, but if so, I would have quit. Wendy gets 1 star. Before she edited it though, he wrote it. As I understand it, the 1918 Influenza outbreak, with its undercurrents of concurrent revolutions in medical science, oppressive (and at times seemingly unconstitutional) governmental policy, sheer human agony, and internationality, is replete with its own inherent drama. No additional tear-jerkers are necessary - the reporting of how 50 million people died worldwide would be plenty. Barry decides that manufactured melodrama is the most effective vehicle to convey this, however. How can one assume how people felt during a worldwide pandemic? After assuming it, how can one essentially write fiction in a non-fiction book as it is described? In addition to his atrocious writing style, Barry seems to thread 3 or 4 books into one, and doesn't even separate them with definitive breaks in his book. In a text which is nominally about an historical event, we read biographical sketches of several men who weren't even involved in fighting the disease. I recommend this to no one. Read the wikipedia article on '1918 Influenza'. It's probably far less annoying. UPDATE: After getting through 300 out of 460 pages of this poorly organized, melodramatic, poor excuse for historiography, I realized I was not only wasting my time reading it, but I was also wasting my time complaining about it to my friends and family. Thats a TRIPLE waste of time. Barry is not worth this investment. I caution every one of you. Unless you want to boost your self esteem and have a John Irving moment of "Wow, I could seriously do way better than this... and this guy got published!" DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. I hope you read this, Barry, and send me an apology. I've never written a review this bitter. Mostly because I've never been this bitter about a book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    As the world is wrapped up in the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought that I would try to educate myself a little more on the general topic while forced to isolate with books. I have often wanted to know a little more about the Spanish Influenza of 1918-19, which was said to be one of the worst pandemics in modern times. As we are in something similar at present, I turned to John M. Barry’s book to permit me to speak with ease as it relates to the spread of infection and the reactions by the public and As the world is wrapped up in the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought that I would try to educate myself a little more on the general topic while forced to isolate with books. I have often wanted to know a little more about the Spanish Influenza of 1918-19, which was said to be one of the worst pandemics in modern times. As we are in something similar at present, I turned to John M. Barry’s book to permit me to speak with ease as it relates to the spread of infection and the reactions by the public and politicians alike. Barry opens with a jaw-dropping tale of the emergence of medical schools and their lax entrance requirements, making the moniker ‘doctor’ seem less impressive. It was only students studying in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins who were put through the motions of a significant medical education and who earned the title with some confidence. From there, the narrative moves to offer some backstory on the emergence of the influenza, citing that its ‘Spanish’ name came not from the origins, but that Spanish newspapers offered frank discussion of events taking place, not censored during the Great War. Talk of an influenza with many deaths filled the headlines, which hit the newswires and the name stuck. Barry explores the origins, based on his own research, as well as how infection ran rampant throughout Europe and soldiers from all countries involved brought it back to their homelands during troop replenishments or retreats. With the only way to travel back to America being the ship, close-quartered troops passed the infection between one another with ease, beginning an explosion of cases once troops made their way across the country. Barry examines how health officials sought to contain things and pushed for hygiene campaigns, which were only somewhat effective. Public Health officials pushed isolation, cleanliness, and the need to take precautions, as the spread ran through the country and left medical officials scrambling to contain the spread. How things seem to parallel what is taking place now, to a differing degree. Barry offers the scientific analysis of the topic as well, discussing frankly about how viruses develop and leap from animals to humans, including how immunity develops. The novice reader can learn much about this and how medicines can help occasionally, as well as what makes the virus able to overpower the human body. There is also a great discussion about how the virus attaches itself to the body through the lungs and other air passages. This discussion not only educates the reader into how infection takes place—perhaps justifying the precautions like washing, masks, and gloves—and the speed at which things can progress. Barry pulls no punches, using early 20th century medical technology to explain how things spread with ease and what could be done to eradicate any further spread. Fitting this medical and scientific knowledge with the narrative about the historical happenings, the reader has a better understanding of the situation. While this may not arm the reader to understand the intricacies of World Health Organisation documents or the high-level analysis done by leading politicians in their briefings, Barry gives the reader a better understanding of how things were during this world scare and what parallels can be drawn to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Peppered amongst these two major narratives is the handful of scientists who studied the influenza and sought to find cures. The interested reader will discover a great deal about immunology and how scientists must use vigorous techniques, as well as exhausting their tests on animals and humans alike, in order to eradicate what was fast becoming a horrible disease that was growing exponentially. Barry follows the work of these essential scientists throughout, from their early focus on how the influenza infected humans through the various tests and microscopic analyses. Thereafter, it was infecting and watching the results in animals that permitted scientists to come up with something that could be used to stop the spread of the influenza. This is a solid teachable moment for the reader about immunisation and its importance to keep disease away from the population. Whatever the reader feels about needles and how their children react, Barry makes a blunt plea to eradicate new strains of long dormant diseases with some simple precautionary measures. Whether these cause autism is something to COVID-19 conspiracists can bring up when fashioning tin-foil hats at their upcoming social distancing picnics. Whether the reader is a strong believer in the health crisis COVID-19 is unleashing on the world or feels that this is a political conspiracy drummed up to hide bigger issues (I have heard people on both sides share their sentiments with me), John M. Barry’s book is highly educational and fits perfectly into how things are playing out at present. Barry offers a great deal of background on so many interesting topics, all of which are interconnected to the issues at hand. The exploration of viruses and how their emergence in other mammals can ‘leap’ to humans with relative ease explains some of the new and odd influenzas and infections that are seen across the world today. Barry does not dilute the discussion, but his explanations are digestible by most readers with a general understanding of basic medical and scientific terminology. Paired with the thorough discussion of the historical goings-on in Europe and, eventually, America, the story is more complete and the policies enacted make a great deal of sense. The reader attuned with news reports may find parallels with what was done in 1918-19 to the present reaction in the United States, though it is sure that Woodrow Wilson allowed local governments and health officials to complete their work unimpeded with false hopes and unreasonable timelines. In a number of well-documented chapters, Barry illustrates just how vast the influenza infection and battle became in America, as well as how deeply felt the deaths were to many who had no idea what was going on. The empathetic reader will likely feel some heart pain for the orphans, the families who lost loved ones overnight, and the emotional battle of giving up the bodies of those they loved, sure that mass graves would leave them unidentifiable in the future. Barry’s book is surely a great one for those who are cooped up and want to get some context, as well as the curious reader, such as myself, who wonder how reactions to past calamities compare to today’s overly dramatic delivery in the 24-hour news cycle. Kudos, Mr Barry, for this enlightening look at an event in world history that surely has some connections to the events in today’s COVID-19 world! This book fulfils Topic #7: Catastrophe, of the Equinox #10 Reading Challenge. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dr Appu Sasidharan

    History is not only learning about the past but also learning from the past to shape our present and the future. This book in such a way is not only a compendium about the Spanish flu (1918 - 1920) but also a vivid description about the pattern of the current pandemic Covid-19 (Barry wrote this book in 2004) and also the pandemics that might happen in the future. Spanish flu is something every Medico might have studied during their Med school days. Still, this book gave me so much new informatio History is not only learning about the past but also learning from the past to shape our present and the future. This book in such a way is not only a compendium about the Spanish flu (1918 - 1920) but also a vivid description about the pattern of the current pandemic Covid-19 (Barry wrote this book in 2004) and also the pandemics that might happen in the future. Spanish flu is something every Medico might have studied during their Med school days. Still, this book gave me so much new information which I haven’t found anywhere else. As Bill Gates said, “Barry will teach you almost everything you need to know about one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history through this book”. Just like the striking resemblances during the repeated outbreaks of Ebola in Africa, there is a striking resemblance between the Spanish flu and the current COVID- 19 outbreak (even though the former occurred a century ago) One big tragedy might help us to save ourselves from a more significant catastrophe in the future. We can see multiple examples of these in both the pandemics. I will cite a couple over here. San Francisco After suffering from one of the worst earthquakes in the history of the United States in 1906, San Francisco was recouping when the pandemic hit the USA in 1918. According to Barry of all the major cities in America, San Francisco confronted the fall wave most honestly and efficiently. That may have had something to do with surviving and rebuilding after the major earthquake. Well begun is half done. Even though it is true, it doesn’t give us the liberty to be complacent or overconfident after a good beginning. It seems that it is what happened in San Francisco later during the third wave. Dr William Hassler, Chief of San Francisco’s Board of Health, was an early advocate of taking strong preventative measures against the flu. He, however, seemed to curb his concern and went so far as to predict that influenza would not even reach San Francisco. San Franciscans had to pay very severely for it, and the third wave hit San Francisco severely. Kerala The second example I can cite is from my personal experience from our ‘God’s own country’. Kerala had a significant outbreak of Nipah virus infection a couple of years ago. The disease was so severe that the Government and health sector had to take extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the infection. Then the COVID -19 happened. The first COVID- 19 case in India was reported in my native place in Kerala way before it was declared a pandemic. But the health sector here took it very seriously and took all the measures to prevent the spread, and we were able to control the infection to a very significant extent. Even though the health sector in our State is one of the best in India, nobody will argue with me when I say that the previous Nipah outbreak and the experience gained from it was a significant factor which enabled us to tackle the COVID -19 pandemic to a great extent until now. These two examples shows the importance of knowing our past well. Books like these are there to serve this exact purpose. Racism and influenza This book also says about the vital relationship between racism and influenza. According to Barry, “The 1918 pandemic did not, in general, follow any pattern of race and class antagonism. In epidemiological terms, there was a correlation between population density and hence class and deaths. But the disease struck down everywhere and everyone almost similarly.” Leaders in time of Crisis and Lost trust This is a crucial topic we all are facing especially during this pandemic. Barry says “Whoever held power whether it is city Government or some private gathering of the locals generally failed to keep the community together. They failed because they lost trust. They lost trust because they lied. It is impossible to quantify how many deaths the lies caused. San Francisco was a rare exception. Its leader told the truth and the city respnded heroically during the fall wave. Those in authority everywhere else were reassuring the people that it is the just influenza, only influenza. Some people have had believed them. Some people must have exposed to the virus in ways they would not have otherwise. Atleast some of these people must have died who would have otherwise lived.” Leadership is as important as the infrastructure when we are dealing with a crisis like a pandemic. We can see the countries which had great infrastructure yet suffered severly in both the 1918 and 2020 pandemics due to poor leadership. Around 5% of world population were wiped out from this world within 2 years with most of the deaths occuring in a span of 12 weeks. This shows how severe was the 1918 pandemic. Among the developed countries Italy and America suffered the worst while India suffered the worst among the developing countries in both the pandemics. Barry in 2004 while finishing this book was saying,” It’s time to start spending serious money on influenza.” We didn’t do it. We had to suffer for it in 2020. We can hope that at least by now we have learned a lesson and we will spend the adequate amount of money to ensure that such severe outbreaks won’t happen in the future. People are of different opinions whether we could have prevented the current pandemic or not. But there is no doubt amongst anyone that all of us could have responded to it in a better way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    This book had promise, and is good in spots - but the overall product suffers greatly from lack of direction and editorial control. If I could rate the best third of the book, I would give it five stars. The other two thirds of the book suffers substantially from a lack of focus, inclusion of unnecessary information, and overly dramatic narrative. And, to add insult to injury, the footnotes are handled in such a fashion that they become nearly useless. In the afterword, it becomes quite obvious t This book had promise, and is good in spots - but the overall product suffers greatly from lack of direction and editorial control. If I could rate the best third of the book, I would give it five stars. The other two thirds of the book suffers substantially from a lack of focus, inclusion of unnecessary information, and overly dramatic narrative. And, to add insult to injury, the footnotes are handled in such a fashion that they become nearly useless. In the afterword, it becomes quite obvious that the author made a bad assumption at the start of his endeavor. After spending seven years researching the book, he concluded that he could not tell the story of the epidemic without covering the history medical science leading up until that time. He also wanted to write the book from the perspective of the scientists and politicians who reacted to the influenza outbreak; he seemed more interested in covering their actions than the virus itself. These assumptions are incorrect. The most interesting and relevant portion of the book is the history of the virus itself. If Barry had simply explained how the virus worked, how it may have come into being, and then followed each wave of the epidemic in chronological order, this book would have been much more enjoyable and much shorter. Instead, he covers material which is not relevant - and by focusing on this material he breaks up his coverage of the virus, thereby rendering the best part of the book less enjoyable. The first third of the book is dedicated to the history of modern medical science. Some of the material is of interest, but this history is not necessary for any discussion of the influenza virus. It has absolutely no impact on the remainder of the book. The reader could simply skip the first 30% of the book and would not notice it. I actually found this information to be interesting, that that does not warrant their inclusion in a 450 page book with a supposed focus on the 1918 epidemic. The second portion of the book is the most direct discussion of the virus in the book, and it is quite good. Barry provides a brief explanation of how the virus works and why it is so successful. He then discusses the impact of the disease, rivaling any horror story while doing so. The amount of chaos and suffering caused by the outbreak is quite sobering. During this time, Barry also discusses the prevailing political climate. As this outbreak occurred during WWI. President Wilson's desire to turn the entire country into a weapon required news of the virus to be controlled rather tightly. This was exacerbated by a good deal of corruption at lower levels of government. The result was a climate in which misinformation and inaction killed tens of thousands of Americans. This material is entirely relevant, and I actually might have liked for him to focus more on it. The last portion of the book covers the scientific community's attempts to control the virus. This is really a misguided effort, as there is no significant discovery to work towards. While the scientists Barry introduces the reader to are all very accomplished, none of them are able to make any headway with their influenza work. The book becomes a spastic collection of various experiments carried out by a handful of scientists. The text is hard to follow as it is all over the map, and after you finish it you realized that the last third of the book is about as relevant as the first third, only less interesting. It is almost comical; one of the scientists he covers during the entire book is Paul Lewis. Towards the end of the book, after discussing Paul Lewis' troubled family life ad nauseam, and filling the reader in on all sorts of work Lewis did with tuberculosis (which had no impact on any influenza research), Barry goes on to tell us how Lewis died while working with the yellow fever in Brazil. So essentially, any mention of Paul Lewis in the book was completely superfluous.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This was a fascinating read about the 1918 flu pandemic, and a good overview of the history of medicine in America. I don't remember learning much about this topic in school — teachers seemed to treat it like more of a footnote to World War I, which was itself treated as a footnote to all the coverage of World War II. But a friend had recommended this book to me more than a decade ago (he was always recommending big works of nonfiction), and it took the coronavirus outbreak for me to finally get This was a fascinating read about the 1918 flu pandemic, and a good overview of the history of medicine in America. I don't remember learning much about this topic in school — teachers seemed to treat it like more of a footnote to World War I, which was itself treated as a footnote to all the coverage of World War II. But a friend had recommended this book to me more than a decade ago (he was always recommending big works of nonfiction), and it took the coronavirus outbreak for me to finally get it from the library and dedicate myself to reading it. Here is a good introductory section from the Prologue: In 1918 an influenza virus emerged — probably in the United States — that would spread around the world, and one of its earliest appearances in lethal form came in Philadelphia. Before that worldwide pandemic faded away in 1920, it would kill more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history. Plague in the 1300s killed a far larger proportion of the population — more than one-quarter of Europe — but in raw numbers influenza killed more than plague then, more than AIDS today ... And they died with extraordinary ferocity and speed. Although the influenza pandemic stretched over two years, perhaps two-thirds of the deaths occurred in a period of twenty-four weeks, and more than half of those deaths occurred in even less time, from mid-September to early December 2018. Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years. Barry has a gift for writing narrative nonfiction; I was engrossed in this book, even though parts of it were a bit technical and required extra focus to follow along. I listened to this on audio, narrated by Scott Brick, who gave an excellent performance. I appreciated this book so much I looked up Barry's other works and intend to read them as well. While a lot has changed in 100 years, a lot has also stayed the same, including how selfish and stubborn people can be, how elected officials often fail to lead during a crisis, and that some people get angry when scientists and experts tell them things they don't want to hear. Here is a good quote from the Afterword that has stayed with me: In 1918 the lies of officials and of the press never allowed the terror to condense into the concrete. The public could trust nothing and so they knew nothing. So a terror seeped into the society that prevented one woman from caring for her sister, that prevented volunteers from bringing food to families too ill to feed themselves and who starved to death because of it, that prevented trained nurses from responding to the most urgent calls for their services. The fear, not the disease, threatened to break the society apart. As Victor Vaughan — a careful man, a measured man, a man who did not overstate to make a point — warned, "Civilization could have disappeared within a few more weeks." So the final lesson, a simple one yet one most difficult to execute, is that those who occupy positions of authority must lessen the panic that can alienate all within a society. Society cannot function if it is every man for himself. By definition, civilization cannot survive that. Those in authority must retain the public's trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one. Lincoln said that first, and best. Leadership must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This book took me a long time to read, for several reasons. First, it really is two books in one. The first book is a history of the men and women and institutions involved in the change to scientific medicine in this country around the turn of the century. The second is the story of the influenza plague of 1918-1922 itself, the horrors of it, the death rate, the physical symptoms, the psychological effects, and the rather interesting fact that it seems to have been largely forgotten as the hist This book took me a long time to read, for several reasons. First, it really is two books in one. The first book is a history of the men and women and institutions involved in the change to scientific medicine in this country around the turn of the century. The second is the story of the influenza plague of 1918-1922 itself, the horrors of it, the death rate, the physical symptoms, the psychological effects, and the rather interesting fact that it seems to have been largely forgotten as the history of the 20th century wore on. Barry bookends the second book with the first book, and you get the impression of an author who has researched the bejeesus out of his subject and time period, and is just brimming over with information that he needs to get down on paper. But the book on scientific medicine really needs to be edited out of the book about the flu plague, because the interaction of the two stories is bizarrely very small - when the plague comes, the scientists and researchers he has spent so much time describing have very little, almost no, impact on the progression of the disease itself. When the flu passes, the researchers continue to work on it, frantically, but nearly everyone is wrong about the cause of the disease for years and year. Other scientific discoveries are made in studies of other diseases, and finally a study of infected pigs sheds light onto the causative agent. The organization of the telling of the influenza epidemic also needs editing, as Barry tells the story roughly chronologically but then diverts around geographically, sometimes telling the same kinds of stories again and again. So by the end of the book, you've read several horrifying stories of deaths by neglect, several accounts of the desperate medicinal efforts made, several accounts of rapid movement of the virus through populations. All of this loose organization makes the book a bit of a slog. The second reason the book took me so long to read is just how painful the descriptions of the virus, the horrible effects it had on the bodies of its victims, the families of its victims, the communities of its victims, the mindsets of its victims and those who lived with the epidemic, were . . . it was horrifying in its scope and scale. The author certainly succeeds in one of his objectives, and that is to let everyone know that FLU CAN KILL, and even though everyone treats it with nonchalance, it is only through luck that we haven't encountered a very virulent and lethal strain lately. Reading this book would be an important thing to do for people who routinely skip their flu shot every year, and will spur the reader to think about what they would do with sick family members if the healthcare system was completely overwhelmed. The most interesting part of the book was a chapter on the psychological damage the virus wrought on some people, and trying to link Woodrow Wilson's actions during the Paris peace conference of 1919 with changes brought on by a bought of the flu in April of that year. I think he proves his case that Wilson was changed mentally by the illness. What is less clear is whether the outcome of the Peace Conference would have been different because of it - the Germans were delusional about the end of WWI in any case, so it is a bit hard to lay Hitler and WWII at the feet of the flu. I still would recommend this to nearly everyone. It is important to realize what we might have to deal with during any given flu season, and this book should be enough to scare anyone straight with regard to that. The author does a great job of describing the science of the pathology and doesn't make any big mistakes with the molecular biology that I caught.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Anderson

    Lots of information in this book that applies to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    People write about war. They write about the Holocaust. They write about the horrors that people inflict on people. Apparently they forget the horrors that nature inflicts on people, the horrors that make humans least significant. Like so many people nowadays, I have been scrambling to wrap my mind around the current pandemic. This led me, naturally, to the last major worldwide outbreak: the 1918 influenza. I have a distant connection to this disease. My great-grandfather (after whom I was na People write about war. They write about the Holocaust. They write about the horrors that people inflict on people. Apparently they forget the horrors that nature inflicts on people, the horrors that make humans least significant. Like so many people nowadays, I have been scrambling to wrap my mind around the current pandemic. This led me, naturally, to the last major worldwide outbreak: the 1918 influenza. I have a distant connection to this disease. My great-grandfather (after whom I was named) was drafted out of Cornell’s veterinary school to work as a nurse in a temporary hospital set up for flu victims. I read the letters he sent to his mother, describing the experience. John Barry’s account of this virulent flu is sobering to say the least. In a matter of months, the flu spread across the world and caused between 50 and 100 million deaths. More American soldiers died from this flu than from the entire Vietnam War. In most places the mortality rate hovered around two percent, but it struck much more fiercely elsewhere. In the Fiji Islands, 14 percent of its population succumbed; in Western Samoa, twenty-two percent; and in Labrador, a third of the population died. And because the disease mainly struck young people—people in their twenties and thirties—thousands were left orphans. Barry’s book is not, however, simply a record of deaths. He sets the historical scene by giving a brief overview of contemporary medicine. In the early 1900s, modern medicine was just coming into its own. After centuries in which it was thought that bad air (“miasma”) caused illness, and in which bleeding was the most popular “cure,” researchers were beginning to discover viruses and bacteria, and were beginning to understand how the immune system combats these germs. Major public health initiatives were just getting underway. The John Hopkins School of Public Health had been founded, and the Rockefeller Institute was making new types of research possible. It was not the Dark Ages. The other major piece of historical context is, of course, the First World War. Undoubtedly this played a major role in the epidemic. Not only did troop movements help to spread the disease, but press censorship virtually guaranteed that communities were unprepared. Barry notes how newspapers all across the country consistently downplayed the danger, which ironically only further increased panic. (The pandemic is sometimes called the “Spanish flu,” because the press in neutral Spain was uncensored, and so reported freely on the disease.) The war effort overrode all of the warnings of disease experts; and by the time the disease struck many communities, most of the available doctors and nurses had been sent to the military. Barry’s narration mainly focuses on the United States. Partly this is because this is where he believes the disease originated (there are several competing theories), partly this is because the disease’s impact in Europe was overshadowed by the war, and partly this is simply because of the amount of easily available sources. I did wish he had spent more time on other countries—especially on India, which suffered horribly. The sections on science—both on the history of science, and summarizing what we know now about flu viruses—were in general quite strong. What was lacking, for me, were sections on the cultural impact of the disease. But perhaps there are not so many. As Barry notes, no major novelist of the time—Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Lawrence—mentioned the pandemic in their works. I have noticed the same thing myself. I cannot recall a single mention of this flu in biographies and autobiographies of people who lived through the pandemic, such as John Maynard Keynes or even John D. Rockefeller (who personally funded research on the disease). This is perhaps understandable in Europe, where the deaths from the pandemic were swallowed up in news of the war; but it seems odd elsewhere. What is more, the pandemic did not seem to exacerbate existing racial or class tensions. In many ways the virus seems to have swept through communities and then disappeared from memory. (Barry does have one fairly controversial claim in the book: that Woodrow Wilson contracted the flu while negotiating the treaty of Versailles, and that it caused him to capitulate to Clemenceau’s demands. If this is true, it would be a major historical consequence.) It is illuminating to compare the 1918 pandemic to the current crisis. There are many similarities. Both are caused by easily transmissible viruses, and both spread around the world. The H1N1 flu virus and the SARS-CoV-2 virus both infect the respiratory system, causing fever, coughing, and in severe cases pneumonia and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). In both cases, no vaccine is available and no known treatment is effective. As in 1918, doctors are turning desperately to other therapies and medicines—those developed for other, unrelated diseases like malaria—and as in 1918, researchers are publishing at a frantic pace, with no time for peer review. Police are again wearing masks, hospitals are again overrun, and officials are struggling to catch up with the progress of the virus. But of course, there are many important differences, too. One is the disease itself. The 1918 flu was almost certainly worse than the novel coronavirus. It was more deadly in general, and it killed younger people in far greater numbers—which resulted in a much bigger dip in life expectancy. (Young people died because their immune systems overreacted in what is called a “cytokine storm.”) The H1N1 flu also had a far shorter incubation period. This meant that the gap between infection and the first symptoms was short—often within 24 hours—and patients deteriorated far more quickly. Barry describes people being struck down within mere hours of showing their first symptoms. The challenge of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, however, is the very long incubation period—potentially up to two weeks—in which people may be infectious and yet not show symptoms. This makes it very difficult to keep track of who has it. The explanation for this difference lies in the nature of the virus. A virus is basically a free-floating piece of genetic code incased in a protein shell. It needs to highjack animal cells in order to reproduce; and it infiltrates cells using proteins that link up with structures on the cells’ surface. Once inside, the virus begins to replicate until the cell literally bursts, spilling virus into adjacent cells, which in turn get infected, and which in turn burst. Each burst can release thousands of copies. The rate at which the virus replicates within the cells determine the incubation period (between first infection and first symptoms), and coronaviruses replicate significantly more slowly in animal cells, thus explaining the slower onset of symptoms. Their greater speed also means that flu viruses change faster, undergoing antigenic drift and antigenic shift, meaning that new strains of the virus are inevitable. The novel coronavirus is (likely) more stable. Another potential difference is seasonality. Flu viruses come in seasonal waves. The 1918 virus struck first in spring, receded in summer, and then returned in autumn and one last time in the winter of 1919. Every wave hit very quickly—and then left just as quickly. Most cities experienced a sharp drop-off in cases after about six weeks of the first patients. The seasonality of the 1918 flu was partly a result of the genetic drift just mentioned, as the different waves of this flu were all at least subtly different strains of the virus. Atmospheric conditions—humidity and temperature—also presumably make some difference in the flu virus’s spread. COVID-19 may exhibit a very different pattern. It may, perhaps, be less affected by atmospheric conditions; and if it mutates and reproduces more slowly, it may linger around for one long wave rather than several short ones. This is just my speculation. Well, so much for the virus. How about us? The world has changed a lot since 1918. However, not all of those changes have made us better prepared. Fast and cheap air travel allowed the virus to spread more quickly. And economic globalization did not help, either, as both medicines and medical equipment are often produced overseas and then imported, thus rendering countries more vulnerable to supply-chain disruption than in the past. As we witness countries and states compete for supplies, this vulnerability is very apparent. But of course we have many advantages, too. Many of the deaths caused by the flu and the coronavirus are not from the virus infection itself, but because the virus renders us vulnerable to secondary infections by bacteria, causing pneumonia. Antibiotics (which did not exist in 1918) can save many lives. Another advantage is medical care. The most severe patients of both epidemics were struck with ARDS, a condition with an almost 100% mortality rate for those who do not receive intensive medical care (using a ventilator machine). In 1918 they were able to administer oxygen, but far less effectively than we can. Even so, even with the best intensive care, the survival rate of ARDS is between 40-60%. And our ability to administer intensive care is quite limited. The ventilator shortage has become a global emergency in itself, as hospitals are overrun. Medical science has also advanced considerably. Now we can isolate the virus (which they could not do in 1918), test individuals for it, and work on a vaccine. However, testing has so far been unable to keep up with the virus. And the most optimistic estimate of an available vaccine is in a year. Arguably a much bigger advantage is information technology. The press is not censored—so citizens have a much better idea of the risks involved—and experts can communicate with each other in real time. We can coordinate large-scale societal responses to the pandemic, and can potentially even use technology to track individual cases. As we come to better understand the virus, we will be able to use more sophisticated statistical methods to understand its progress. None of this was possible in 1918. One thing that we will have to contend with—something that is hardly even mentioned in Barry’s book—is the economic toll that this virus will take. Even in the ugliest days of the 1918 pandemic, governments did not require businesses or restaurants to close. War preparations went on unabated. (In 1918, after years of slaughter and at the height of the war, life was simply cheaper than it is now.) Our societal response will likely mitigate the health crisis but will create a secondary economic crisis that may ultimately be more difficult to solve. The solutions to this crisis could be our most lasting legacies. Already Spain’s government is talking of adopting universal basic income. Though of course it is far too early to predict anything with confidence. Comparisons with 1918 are partly depressing, and partly uplifting. Depressing, because we knew this was possible and did not prepare. Depressing, because so many governments have gone through the same cycle of early denial and disorganized response as they did back then. Uplifting, because we do know much more than we did. Uplifting, because—after our early fumbles—we are finally coordinating as a global community to deal with the crisis. Perhaps most uplifting of all, despite some ugly stories here and there, the crisis has revealed a basic sense of solidarity in the face of a universal threat. Hopefully, unlike 1918, we will not do our best to forget about this one.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    I read many of the reviews of The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. Many reviews are on target, the book just doesn't meet expectations for what should be a powerful tale. Unless you already have the book, I wouldn't rush to get it. How can I characterize it? Pompous, pretentious, repetitive, bloated,...? It seems he is trying to write like Simon Winchester, bringing in various threads to make a colorful tapestry. Except it is threadbare, strained, frayed. Just I read many of the reviews of The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. Many reviews are on target, the book just doesn't meet expectations for what should be a powerful tale. Unless you already have the book, I wouldn't rush to get it. How can I characterize it? Pompous, pretentious, repetitive, bloated,...? It seems he is trying to write like Simon Winchester, bringing in various threads to make a colorful tapestry. Except it is threadbare, strained, frayed. Just didn't work for me. A real shame because the story deserves a powerful telling. There was one part that was outstanding. His description of Woodrow Wilson's administration and the Progressive hell that enveloped the US leading up to and during WWI was absolutely chilling and precise. The Espionage Act, the American Protective League, the associated American Vigilance Patrol, the Four-minute men, the Committee on Public Information… I don’t know if Barry intended to paint such a chilling picture of the rise of propaganda, censorship and government force but he does an excellent job. Just 2 Stars for me. Darn it, was hoping it would be amazing.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joy D

    Comprehensive look at the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 50 million people worldwide. The author starts with a history of medical science, describing the common thoughts of the time immediately preceding the pandemic, and documenting the improvements made by notable institutions and scientists of the day. He traces the origins of the disease, likely in Kansas, and the spread of the disease through transfer and deployment of American military personnel Comprehensive look at the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 50 million people worldwide. The author starts with a history of medical science, describing the common thoughts of the time immediately preceding the pandemic, and documenting the improvements made by notable institutions and scientists of the day. He traces the origins of the disease, likely in Kansas, and the spread of the disease through transfer and deployment of American military personnel in WWI. A good portion of the book is devoted to the science of viruses (what they look like under a microscope, how they mutate, and how they infect a host), research methodology, and the many ways people tried to curtail the proliferation of the disease. He takes politicians and newspaper representatives to task for failing to tell citizens the truth. In fact, it ended up being called “Spanish flu” due to the fact that “only the Spanish newspapers were publishing accounts of the spread of the disease that were picked up in other countries.” He analyzes how society reacted to the overwhelming challenges created by the pandemic, and what lessons can be learned from it. Leadership is important, especially during a crisis, and it was sorely lacking in many instances. The portion of the book focused in the influenza outbreak is the most effective. Barry paints a disturbing picture of the horrors created by the rapid contagion: “But the most terrifying aspect of the epidemic was the piling up of bodies. Undertakers, themselves sick, were overwhelmed. They had no place to put bodies. Gravediggers either were sick or refused to bury influenza victims. The director of the city jail offered to have prisoners dig graves, then rescinded the offer because he had no healthy guards to watch them. With no gravediggers, bodies could not be buried. Undertakers’ work areas were overflowing, they stacked caskets in halls, in their living quarters—many lived above their businesses.” This book gives highlights the contributions of a number of scientists that may not be familiar to many readers. It points out some of the discoveries that came out of research dedicated to isolating the source of this virulent version of influenza, such as how DNA carries genetic code. I am impressed by the amount of research that went into this book, as documented in the extensive footnotes and bibliography. At times, it gets a bit scattered and repetitive, and the author digresses into areas not directly related to the influenza epidemic, but overall it provides a detailed analysis of what happened and cautions us not to become complacent. If anyone wants motivation to get the annual flu vaccine, this book will provide plenty of rationale. It will appeal to those with an interest in science or the history of medicine. If reading it for the historical significance, be prepared for lots of scientific details.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Greta

    “Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years.” This book is amazing, I wish I already read it several month ago, when Covid-19 started to escalate! You should make this your next read, it‘s not only absolutely interesting and horrifying but also helps you to understand our current situation, particularly the reactions of politics and media much better. On the “Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years.” This book is amazing, I wish I already read it several month ago, when Covid-19 started to escalate! You should make this your next read, it‘s not only absolutely interesting and horrifying but also helps you to understand our current situation, particularly the reactions of politics and media much better. On the first pages I was slightly surprised, because I expected to dive directly into Influenza, but instead you briefly but thoroughly learn about the entire history of medicine, and the discovery of infections. I appreciate that, because it gives you the know how to fully understand what happens when and why. The pandemic started in 1918, lastet around 15 month and was one of the deadliest in world history with a death toll anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million. (It‘s hard to tell because of the war killing everyone at the same time). The author writes from the point of view of the USA btw. - it‘s not about Spain, in case you were wondering. I have to admit that I didn‘t even know about this pandemic before, even though it was going on DURING the First World War and majorly affected it. Marines and soldiers were a crucial point in spreading the disease worldwide, couldn‘t escape from infecting each other on the ships and were dropping dead by the minute - dead bodies were just thrown into the sea, because there was no place for them anymore. On the marine parade then, which wasn‘t cancelled, even though doctors begged the politicians to do so, the marines spread it to the public, causing the massive outbreak in the USA. At the time, there were no effective drugs or vaccines to treat this and no one even identified it as Influenza and knew what it was and how it was spreading. The incubation periode was 24-48h and victims often died within 12 hours, some dropped dead without any warning on the spot, or days of developing symptoms, their skin turning blue and their lungs filling with blood and fluid that caused them to suffocate. This was accompanied by fever, massive pain and blood or other fluids splashing out of all body openings: noses, ears, eyes etc. The lungs were torn apart like they were hit by weapons, toxic gas or a kind of plaque that killed 90% off the infected. In just one year the average life expectancy in America plummeted by a dozen years. At an average there were three death per family, some were whipped out completely. Dead bodies were piling up everywhere, the living kept on living with their dead family members in their homes because they were no capacities anymore to remove them. Bodies were lying in the streets and everywhere was dirt, causing the infection to spread even more rapidly. It mostly hit young adults, not primarily old people! 2/3 of the people dying were between 18 and 40 years old. The virus itself mostly wasn‘t deadly but the immune response, with the lungs being the battle field. Because healthy young adults have the strongest immune systems, they had the most severe reactions, which made them so likely to die. Hundred-thousands of children lost their mothers to Influenza and their fathers in war, ending up as orphans. Doctors and nurses were extremely scars to begin with, because over 800 of them were in war, but many of the remaining died in the hospitals, were first bribed by patients to treat them above others, than abducted and hold hostage in family homes and finally stopped showing up for work, because they were to scared of being infected themselfes. One quarter of the patients in the hospitals died each day.The citizens started to turn against each other. We are currently in a situation were many people protest against the lockdowns and social distancing and don‘t follow orders- back than it was the opposite. People refused to leave their homes and help each other. Social services desperately tried to find women to take in all the orphans but no one volunteered . The hospitals needed staff to handle all the patients that weren't fitting anymore, but people refused to offer their support and nurses and doctors refused to come in. People saw each other getting sick and needing help, but just watched and turned their back. They weren't told to practice social distancing, they closed their businesses and isolated themselves against orders. The politics and media played an important role in this horror because they denied that anything was happening but tried to cover everything up, to calm the masses and stay focused on the war. They were constantly warned and bagged by doctors to intervene but it lastet forever until at least schools were closed and citizens ordered to wear masks (sometimes not even that, dependent on the state). If they did anything at all they did stuff like ordering businesses to open and close on staggered shifts to avoid overcrowding on the subways. They refused to openly acknowledge the severity of the situation, everyone was experiencing! There strategy was to tell people that it was nothing but the flu (without knowing what that meant) and that the biggest enemy was fear. Who got scared was more likely to be infected they said. The media refused to publish numbers of dead people and telling everyone to calm down but that was counterproductive. The more the media lied, the more scared the people became, because they realized that the situation was completely ignored and out of hand and they were left alone. When false rumors raised that dogs could be spreading the disease, entire cities categorically killed the entire dog population. People were starting to talk about the Black Death and it wasn‘t until years later, that it was discovered that it was an Influenza mutation. The pandemic didn‘t end until there was no one left to be infected and die. The book then finishes with shedding light on the later discoveries, vaccines and the aftermath. MY CONCLUSION The strategy of politics and media to deny everything and not take any percussions until it was way too late, in the attempt to cover everything up really opened my eyes to todays situation. I do think, that the media purposely caused panic and fear in the last months, at least sometimes for monetary reasons and not helpful at all, but they come from a place of denial and responsibility for the harm they caused. Therefore they are in a position of having to speak up and not stay too quiet for history not to repeat itself. There were a very few small cities back then, where the media didn‘t lie and the mayors ordered complete lockdowns before the infection hit them. Those were the ones that survived and death rates stayed extremely low or at least lower. I‘m lucky to say that I live in a country that apparently learned from this and started to lock down before we were massively hit. In Germany politicians are taking actions and are rather to consequent than reckless. That‘s why our media can afford to - let‘s say have to- encourage rationality and reason but also calmness, to balance each other, which isn‘t happening enough. When I think about Trump denying everything on the other hand, I can understand that the American newspapers scream as loud as they can. Causing fear to provoke actions in citizens is the only tool they have and lies within their responsibility. This individual repeats the behavior that costs millions of Americans their liefe‘s before, it‘s frightening. The media owe it to the American people to contradict politics and to not talk anything down. I do criticize the way this is executed on many occasions, but it makes much more sense to me now, I look at it differently and are more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt of having good intensions. I‘m so glad I read this book and I can highly recommend it!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    It was a book, only a book. I have to keep telling myself this because even though author John M. Barry apparently felt like he was writing the tome to end all tomes about this chapter in world history – including the hideous phrase, "It was influenza, just influenza" over and over and over again – in the end, what he created was a terrific 200-page story of the world's deadliest pandemic wrapped in 250 pages of overwritten irrelevance. Barry spent seven years working on this book, and it shows. B It was a book, only a book. I have to keep telling myself this because even though author John M. Barry apparently felt like he was writing the tome to end all tomes about this chapter in world history – including the hideous phrase, "It was influenza, just influenza" over and over and over again – in the end, what he created was a terrific 200-page story of the world's deadliest pandemic wrapped in 250 pages of overwritten irrelevance. Barry spent seven years working on this book, and it shows. By which I mean it's meticulously researched, thoroughly detailed – and very poorly edited. It's clear he was too invested in his work and failed utterly at even the most basic test of what was relevant to his thesis. Thus we have short books about the history of Johns Hopkins University and modern medicine, about the failed response of the scientific community to the flu pandemic, and about the flu pandemic itself and the political and military decisions that exacerbated it. This latter is a five-star book – tightly written, cogent, fascinating and novel-like in its intensity while still lucidly explaining the mechanism of influenza infection and the immune system's response – but the rest should have been excised. In addition to the massive editing failure this book represents, Barry seems to understand on some level that his work is all head, no heart. It's about scientists and science, and cares very little for the actual people who got sick and died during the pandemic. The result, however, is to overwrite his descriptions of the flu's effects on cities like Philadelphia. He finds a rhetorical trick and hammers it home well past the point of overuse. He constantly uses "for" instead of "because," which trips up the reader. By the end of the book, I was skimming pretty heavily. Despite flashes of brilliance, The Great Influenza is a book, only a book, and not one worth the time required to invest in it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Sharpnack

    As an immunizing pharmacist who lived through the craziness of the early onset (October) of the swine flu pandemic of 2009, I have long been interested in the great influenza pandemic of 1918-19. What were the circumstances? Why did so many young people die, when usually it’s infants and the elderly? I was hoping this book would answer those questions, and in part, it did. However, I really did not need a history of medicine in general (back to Galen?!), laboratory medicine in particular, and med As an immunizing pharmacist who lived through the craziness of the early onset (October) of the swine flu pandemic of 2009, I have long been interested in the great influenza pandemic of 1918-19. What were the circumstances? Why did so many young people die, when usually it’s infants and the elderly? I was hoping this book would answer those questions, and in part, it did. However, I really did not need a history of medicine in general (back to Galen?!), laboratory medicine in particular, and medical colleges in America. This took up almost the first third of the book and IMHO was really unnecessary. Synopses of the main physicians trying to isolate the organism that caused the pandemic would have been sufficient. For this reason, the book only gets 4 stars. When we do get to the history of the pandemic, the statistics just get mind-boggling: as many as 8 to 10 percent of all young adults alive at the time succumbed to the flu. Approximately two-thirds of the deaths occurred in a 24-week period. People who awoke healthy were often dead within two to four days, some within 12 HOURS. The flu “killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS...killed in twenty-four years.” Priests drove down the street in Philadelphia calling out for people to bring out their dead, just like the Middle Ages. Many cities came to absolute standstills. Even after reading this book, I can’t wrap my head around how awful the Great Influenza was, and can only worry about our preparedness for the next time the virus mutates into an unrecognizable form.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sara W

    Getting a little boring, so I'm taking a break from it. I think I expected a social history (how everyday people dealt with the flu, how it affected communities, etc.), and instead it's a very detailed history of medicine at the time (and well, well before the time of the flu!). I think I made it through a good 1/4 to 1/3 of the book (or more) before the Spanish flu began to get mentioned. The focus is on the medicine and doctors (individuals and as a profession - you get the whole history of U. Getting a little boring, so I'm taking a break from it. I think I expected a social history (how everyday people dealt with the flu, how it affected communities, etc.), and instead it's a very detailed history of medicine at the time (and well, well before the time of the flu!). I think I made it through a good 1/4 to 1/3 of the book (or more) before the Spanish flu began to get mentioned. The focus is on the medicine and doctors (individuals and as a profession - you get the whole history of U.S. medical schools) at the time. While interesting in its own right, it's not what I expected. The title is a little misleading considering how much of this book does not cover the Great Influenza. In addition, the book seems to jump around weirdly, so it's a little hard to keep track of things. I agree with the other reviews which mention the poor editing. I'm planning on finishing the book at some point (at least skimming it) because portions of it are interesting and what I was looking for.

  17. 4 out of 5

    A.L. Sowards

    I thought this would be a history of the misnamed Spanish flu of 1918 (it originated in the US, but since Spain was one of the few countries not at war and not censoring information, it took that country’s name). This book included information about the epidemic, but also extensive details about the founding of Johns Hopkins and the Rockefeller Institute and the men (and at least one woman) involved in those organizations. I had been hoping for the story of the epidemic all over the world, but t I thought this would be a history of the misnamed Spanish flu of 1918 (it originated in the US, but since Spain was one of the few countries not at war and not censoring information, it took that country’s name). This book included information about the epidemic, but also extensive details about the founding of Johns Hopkins and the Rockefeller Institute and the men (and at least one woman) involved in those organizations. I had been hoping for the story of the epidemic all over the world, but this account was focused on the US with only minimal attention for other regions. I thought the parts about the epidemic were interesting, but I found the writing style repetitive and long-winded. Rounding up to 3 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I hesitate to go 3 starts on this book, but for what it is it's a good book. The thing is (and I've seen other reviewers here say the same thing) it's not what I would call "primarily" about the 1918/1919 Influenza pandemic. That's what I was "primarily" interested in. My grandparents and great grandparents lived through this time. My grand-aunt lived into her 90s and close to 100. She was one of those people (and most of us have known them) who seemed to have a "cast iron constitution". She was I hesitate to go 3 starts on this book, but for what it is it's a good book. The thing is (and I've seen other reviewers here say the same thing) it's not what I would call "primarily" about the 1918/1919 Influenza pandemic. That's what I was "primarily" interested in. My grandparents and great grandparents lived through this time. My grand-aunt lived into her 90s and close to 100. She was one of those people (and most of us have known them) who seemed to have a "cast iron constitution". She was seldom sick and when she was she generally didn't slow down much for it. She wouldn't speak about a lot of her past and that included the flu epidemic (that generation seemed to be big on stoicism). When we asked she spoke about it a little. She was a young woman/older girl and was the one who ended up taking care of her whole family. She spoke of the bodies and how they couldn't all be buried and were stacked about. I got this book because I wanted to know more about the epidemic. This book however is more about the state of medical science in the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. It covers the changes and the discoveries these changes drove science to. About halfway through the book we get to some direct text on the pandemic itself but the author is more interested in the state of medicine in general. The story of the book carries on well past the epidemic but not primarily about the effects of the pandemic itself but the effect on medical science and the doctors who were involved in research. So it was fairly interesting and it tells the story that it tells very well. I would like however to find a book more concerned about the pandemic itself. We do get some information of that type here, don't let me mislead you. I'd say maybe 25% of the book is concerned with the flu, how it spread and the idiotic bureaucratic mistakes that added to it's spread. The facts of life for the people who lived with it, the situations like small cities that simply set out armed guards and cut themselves off from the outside. It's here but not the primary focus. I guess I'll keep looking. Three stars but good for what it is.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    Like a poorly crafted pop song, this book is full of occasional flashes of intelligence and brilliance, but is brought down to the level of the two star by it's repetitive nature and bogged down by details. Okay, the metaphor doesn't really work with the "bogged down by details" part, but other than that, it's apt. In attempts to create a rhythm, and strike a melodic note with his writing, Barry uses phrases he thinks are poignant to the point of annoyance. It's honestly like that Debbie Gibson s Like a poorly crafted pop song, this book is full of occasional flashes of intelligence and brilliance, but is brought down to the level of the two star by it's repetitive nature and bogged down by details. Okay, the metaphor doesn't really work with the "bogged down by details" part, but other than that, it's apt. In attempts to create a rhythm, and strike a melodic note with his writing, Barry uses phrases he thinks are poignant to the point of annoyance. It's honestly like that Debbie Gibson song "Shake Your Love." Well, John M. Barry, you're not shaking my love anymore. He does Shake My Love during the best parts of the book: the graphic details of the disease itself. But when it comes to relaying the nature of it's affects on various cities and people, it certainly unshakes my love. Unshakes my love with a passion. The subject matter tends to be so new and fascinating that it keeps you reading, and the 2nd third of the book is worth the time spent on the rest. All told, let's just say I hope there isn't another devestating influenza like the one of 1918-1919 so we don't have to sit through another John M. Barry retelling of it. Oh, and also 'cause the 50+ million deaths sounds pretty shitty.

  20. 5 out of 5

    সালমান হক

    Despite the writing being so poor(almost seemed like a first draft), this one hits home. 1920 and 2020. New century, new pandemic. We always thought that things cant get much worse, but reality surprises us. The researches, methods that was done back then may seem medieval , but it was what they had then. Where are we with all this cutting edge technologies in 2020? I live in a country where students choose to read life science if they dont get into other disciplines(not talking about physicians Despite the writing being so poor(almost seemed like a first draft), this one hits home. 1920 and 2020. New century, new pandemic. We always thought that things cant get much worse, but reality surprises us. The researches, methods that was done back then may seem medieval , but it was what they had then. Where are we with all this cutting edge technologies in 2020? I live in a country where students choose to read life science if they dont get into other disciplines(not talking about physicians). This should change. We should encourage kids reading about science from an early age. Not just doctors and engineers. We need some scientists of our own. Period.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susanna - Censored by GoodReads

    Started reading a book purportedly about the Spanish Flu, but so far is actually about the history of medical practice in the United States. Also if he calls Johns Hopkins University "The Hopkins" a few more times I'm going to smack him. Or his book, which will be closer to me. (I'm having flashbacks to Sean Wilentz and his freaking "The Democracy.") ETA: 40% in and we're finally starting to deal with the flu epidemic. That's a long set-up section!

  22. 4 out of 5

    ALLEN

    There are still aspects to the 1918/19 "Spanish"flu pandemic that elude us. It likely originated in Kansas, not Spain. It killed more civilians than soldiers and was the 20th Century's most lethal pandemic except for AIDS. Even today, we are still dealing with its after-effects as it mutates and returns to attack human beings every few years, making vaccines only partially effective. THE GREAT INFLUENZA is a fascinating book, not lacking in detail. It is unlikely that the death count would have There are still aspects to the 1918/19 "Spanish"flu pandemic that elude us. It likely originated in Kansas, not Spain. It killed more civilians than soldiers and was the 20th Century's most lethal pandemic except for AIDS. Even today, we are still dealing with its after-effects as it mutates and returns to attack human beings every few years, making vaccines only partially effective. THE GREAT INFLUENZA is a fascinating book, not lacking in detail. It is unlikely that the death count would have been so high if not for the massive population shifts brought on by World War One, the overcrowding of soldiers, and President Woodrow Wilson's intransigence in insisting on total victory despite the fact that the Central Powers were on the verge of collapse. The only real gripe I have with this book is that it's awfully long -- 546 pages -- with antecedents in other plagues and epidemics in Europe's prior centuries. You'll also learn a lot about how bacteria and viruses function, and how the great 20th Century epidemiologists set out to tame them. Try to get this revision (2018) of the book, which is right on the money about topics that still plague us: whether schools should be closed in a pandemic, and whether the USA keeps on hand enough personal protective equipment to protect the population (no, the author avers). In an age of Covid-19, we should all have listened.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    The Great Influenza by John Barry is an important book that is equal part history and equal part science discussing the 1918 Flu. The book is written almost exclusively about the American impacts towards and from the flu. The book spends more than half the pages discussing immunologists and their groundbreaking work on infectious diseases, especially influenza and pneumonia. As a result it took Barry a few hundred pages to hit the meat of the book. We learn that the deadly strain of 1918 influenz The Great Influenza by John Barry is an important book that is equal part history and equal part science discussing the 1918 Flu. The book is written almost exclusively about the American impacts towards and from the flu. The book spends more than half the pages discussing immunologists and their groundbreaking work on infectious diseases, especially influenza and pneumonia. As a result it took Barry a few hundred pages to hit the meat of the book. We learn that the deadly strain of 1918 influenza killed more than 5% of the world’s population in less than a year and that influenza viruses over time become significantly less fatal but this strain was still killing people by the thousands more than two years later. We learn that some places like Australia and Gunnison Colorado escaped the flu because of complete quarantines. Infected people never got through. But there were three cases in Alaska where in villages, every single person died and another twelve villages the death rates were 85%. The city of Philadelphia was also hit exceptionally hard. In just one day, October 10th, over 700 people died from the 1918 influenza. We also learn that the deadly strain originated in Haskell County Kansas in very early 1918 and was spread to nearby military bases in Kansas and then to those bases deploying troops to Europe and then across the pond to France where soldiers died by the hundreds of thousands from a more virulent strain. The virus returned to the U.S and around the world where millions died. I found the chapters that comprised the last 1/3 of the book, The Tolling of the Bell and Lingerer, and which documented the horrific effects of the 1918 strain to be absolutely superb. This book was ambitious and the author succeeded in telling us both the stories of the scientists behind the rush to stop the outbreak and the anecdotal stories that captured the human costs. Some patience is required to get to the most rewarding part towards the end of the book. The author said he took seven years to research and write this book and it shows. 4.5 stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

    The title is a bit of a misnomer. Although the Great Influenza of 1919 was a pandemic, the author focuses exclusively on its history in the United States. As several other reviewers have noted, this book could have benefited from a good edit. A significant share of the book focuses on the history of medicine in the United States prior to the Great Influenza, providing biographical information on medical researchers both who would play a role in trying to find an effective treatment for the disea The title is a bit of a misnomer. Although the Great Influenza of 1919 was a pandemic, the author focuses exclusively on its history in the United States. As several other reviewers have noted, this book could have benefited from a good edit. A significant share of the book focuses on the history of medicine in the United States prior to the Great Influenza, providing biographical information on medical researchers both who would play a role in trying to find an effective treatment for the disease as well as many who did not. Perhaps a good editor could have also reined in the author's tendency to focus on graphic descriptions of the presenting symptoms of the disease. Page after page describe the color of various bodily secretions, etc. While it is understandable that the author wanted the reader to appreciate the severity of this strain of flu, too much of this type of detail reduces the narrative to a sensationalist account aimed at making the reader feel squeamish. At least for this reader, it would have been more interesting if the author had focused more on the social, cultural, and political ramifications of this pandemic in the US and elsewhere and less on pus and other secretions.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Clif

    John Barry is in love with science and we are the beneficiaries in this comprehensive account of the influenza epidemic that came at the end of WWI. Some of his prose is quite lyrical when he praises the scientific method and the virtue of rational thinking combined with imagination in some of the researchers he covers. But there are villains as well as heroes here as we enter an earlier time where government did almost nothing while private initiatives and funding allied with individual effort t John Barry is in love with science and we are the beneficiaries in this comprehensive account of the influenza epidemic that came at the end of WWI. Some of his prose is quite lyrical when he praises the scientific method and the virtue of rational thinking combined with imagination in some of the researchers he covers. But there are villains as well as heroes here as we enter an earlier time where government did almost nothing while private initiatives and funding allied with individual effort to fight disease. You'll get a view of the Wilson administration and the issues of post-war politics. You'll discover the primitive state of American medicine at the turn of the 20th century. You'll learn why the Germans and the French were far ahead in medical research in the beginning of the book and how one American was instrumental in pulling together the human and financial resources to advance the training of a group of American doctors to equal that of the Europeans. Any history should teach the reader a thing or two and this book excels in that. Medical terms are introduced and carefully explained as are the basic concepts of genetics. How does a virus attack a healthy cell and why does a virus mutate so rapidly that any drug is hard-pressed to remain effective even over a period of months? You'll find out. I happened across an article in a current newspaper dealing with the attempt to find a vaccine that would be effective against all viruses and to my surprise I found I understood all of the terms because I had read this book. Written with an intensity and urgency that will keep your attention, The Great Influenza deserves a read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sebastien

    Solid read (and timely I suppose). Fascinating some of the parallels with the US's political response (read mismanagement/lies) between the 1918 pandemic and the 2020 COVID19 pandemic. Selfish political interest coming before public health, a sad pattern we see too often. There are also some interesting potential parallels between these two virus pandemics regarding the issue of cytokine storms: an over-reactive immune response being a central issue in causing severe disease (and in some people Solid read (and timely I suppose). Fascinating some of the parallels with the US's political response (read mismanagement/lies) between the 1918 pandemic and the 2020 COVID19 pandemic. Selfish political interest coming before public health, a sad pattern we see too often. There are also some interesting potential parallels between these two virus pandemics regarding the issue of cytokine storms: an over-reactive immune response being a central issue in causing severe disease (and in some people death). Maybe the predisposition to the cytokine storms from specific allergens/pathogens/toxins is based on particular immune system genetic subtypes? Hopefully there will be some research on that angle. Recommend the book. Nice historical overview and provides some added historical context for the current pandemic.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alkire

    Turned out to be ok, but given my high expectations for the book, ultimately disappointing. Before I get talk about the book itself, I’d like to say a few words about the peril of popular historical analogy. Really, this current Corona virus and the 1918 flu are not equivalent. Different diseases different times different responses. For starters, 1918 was a war economy. If people had chirped about lack of toilet paper or individual rights to be out and about, they would have been swiftly muzzled Turned out to be ok, but given my high expectations for the book, ultimately disappointing. Before I get talk about the book itself, I’d like to say a few words about the peril of popular historical analogy. Really, this current Corona virus and the 1918 flu are not equivalent. Different diseases different times different responses. For starters, 1918 was a war economy. If people had chirped about lack of toilet paper or individual rights to be out and about, they would have been swiftly muzzled. Second, the government involvement at the federal level was vastly different. In 1918 the federal government did absolutely nothing, tot even brave words of comfort, for civilians suffers the flu. Today the government is throwing massive amounts of money at the problem even if it is at the behest of business special interests. At least the government is trying something. In fact, the only thing similar is that local governments are bearing the brunt of the response and that said response is a patchwork and that the media is following local government lead, in 1918 largely silent about the danger, in 2020 loudly proclaiming from the rooftops about the dangers. The last difference is the most important, different diseases. The 1918 flu struck quickly with a 48 to 72-hour incubation period and often killed suddenly as short as 12 hours after symptoms largely because the body’s immune system had to mount such a vigorous defense that if killed the body in the process. This corona virus is a two-week incubation period and seems to be more of a slow and more predictable killer. Hopefully you’re still reading at this point as I will now discuss the book. I like books on pandemics when I can find them. They’re interesting and often draw lessons, usually for apocalypse writers, but unfortunately, real life currently. I chose this book because it’s the popular definitive work on the 1918 flu and that’s where the book falls short. The The organization of this book is just bad. It’s a confusing narrative structure with no real timeline and constant doubling back and forth interspersed with chapters on diseases and the like. It’s extremely repetitive. The writing is uneven. Sometimes it slows admirably and at other times gets bogged down in statistics and detail. The book also becomes awfully dry at times, particularly when discussing diseases themselves in quite detailed fashion. The content is also uneven. There’s lots here which isn’t truly relevant like medical school history and the life stories of doctors whose insolvent with the flu was more administrate than actual work. In short, this book was just a mess and clearly there was no good editing done on it. This book could have been a lot better than it was. So, I give this a 3. It’s interesting and at times, quite readable and even compelling. But, it’s dismally organized and edited. It could have been much better.

  28. 5 out of 5

    WendyB

    A must-read book for the times we live in. Starts out with maybe just a little too much background on some of the doctors involved in the 1918 flu research but still interesting info on the state of medicine at that time. Got really interesting with the info on the start of the flu and the effect on the population. In researching my family background, I discovered my grandparents' first child died in Oct 1918 of the Spanish Flu at just 12 days old. So in some small ways, this history still touches A must-read book for the times we live in. Starts out with maybe just a little too much background on some of the doctors involved in the 1918 flu research but still interesting info on the state of medicine at that time. Got really interesting with the info on the start of the flu and the effect on the population. In researching my family background, I discovered my grandparents' first child died in Oct 1918 of the Spanish Flu at just 12 days old. So in some small ways, this history still touches us today.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

    The 1918 Flu Pandemic coincided with the First World War and it killed more than both the military and civilian casualties of the conflict yet while the war generated an avalanche of literature (poems, songs, music, fiction, films, biographies and autobiographies) not much serious work had been done about this pandemic until this book published in 2004. I read this a few years back and I’ve disposed of my copy already but since it was a gripping, unforgettable read, I could still recall some tidb The 1918 Flu Pandemic coincided with the First World War and it killed more than both the military and civilian casualties of the conflict yet while the war generated an avalanche of literature (poems, songs, music, fiction, films, biographies and autobiographies) not much serious work had been done about this pandemic until this book published in 2004. I read this a few years back and I’ve disposed of my copy already but since it was a gripping, unforgettable read, I could still recall some tidbits of information about this 1918 pandemic in relation with what we are now experiencing during the present one. First of all, and this is what is often found to be the most surprising about whatever virus was it which caused the 1918 pandemic, the most vulnerable was those who were physically fit and at the prime of their lives (think those in their 20’s or 30’s who eat healthy and go to the gym). Contrast this with with most of the present Covid 19 fatalities who are old and who had pre-existing health issues. But why is that? For some reasons, the body’s immune system or antibodies react to the 1918 virus in a weird way. They overreact or overdo things. The analogy is that when a fly (the virus) enters a house (the human body) someone drops an atom bomb (the antibodies) on it to kill the fly and because of it even the house is completely destroyed. So that is why it was the healthy and the strong who mostly died: they were the ones with stronger antibodies. Secondly, the incubation period for the 1918 virus was apparently shorter. I think there was a story in the book about someone talking gaily on a street, apparently healthy, then in just an hour or so would die there in that same place. Or a bus of healthy-looking people stopping before it reaches its destination because its driver (with 6 of its passengers) dropping dead. The 1918 pandemic killed about 100 Million people worldwide. No one knew how it was stopped. Probably it just got tired of killing people.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Penultimate sentence of the book: ‪”A society that takes as its motto, ‘Every man for himself’ is no longer a civilized society.‬”

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.