The Great Influenza

The Great Influenza

The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

Book - 2004
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No disease the world has ever known even remotely resembles the great influenza epidemic of 1918. Presumed to have begun when sick farm animals infected soldiers in Kansas, spreading and mutating into a lethal strain as troops carried it to Europe, it exploded across the world with unequaled ferocity and speed. It killed more people in twenty weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty years; it killed more people in a year than the plagues of the Middle Ages killed in a century. Victims bled from the ears and nose, turned blue from lack of oxygen, suffered aches that felt like bones being broken, and died. In the United States, where bodies were stacked without coffins on trucks, nearly seven times as many people died of influenza as in the First World War. In his powerful new book, award-winning historian John M. Barry unfolds a tale that is magisterial in its breadth and in the depth of its research, and spellbinding as he weaves multiple narrative strands together. In this first great collision between science and epidemic disease, even as society approached collapse, a handful of heroic researchers stepped forward, risking their lives to confront this strange disease. Titans like William Welch at the newly formed Johns Hopkins Medical School and colleagues at Rockefeller University and others from around the country revolutionized American science and public health, and their work in this crisis led to crucial discoveries that we are still using and learning from today. The Washington Post's Jonathan Yardley said Barry's last book can ?change the way we think.' The Great Influenzamay also change the way we see the world.
Publisher: New York : Viking, [2004]
Copyright Date: ©2004
ISBN: 9780670894734
Characteristics: 546 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Jul 25, 2017

Absolutely amazing read. I work as an administrative assistant to a pathology team and learning the immune system processes in more detail was fascinating. I also will continue to get my annual "flu shot" and in years when the CDC/NHI/WHO isn't sure they have the routine vaccination "right" (such as winter of 2016-17) I will always opt for the higher-priced quadrivalent vaccine instead (like I did last fall). The organisms' "shift" versus "drift" explanation is also particularly horrifying.

Jun 21, 2017

Point Of Fact: The reason it is called the Spanish Influenza is because Spain, being neutral during World War I, did not censor its papers and news media, which is why the world first learn of this pandemic through the deaths in Spain. It is surmised this nightmare was created when the flu strain that had developed in the New World combined with the flu strain of the Old World, creating a super strain that killed people faster than they could be buried or, in some cases, even have time to realize how sick they were (one woman, as a child of eight, remembers walking down the streets of London while people dropped dead around her mother and her.) Bureaucratic obstinacy created this pandemic as many `top brass` refused to admit there was such a crisis (bad for patriotic morale) and (in the case of the United States) kept stuffing sick soldiers into troop ships and sending them `off to do battle`...until the flood of telegrams reached them reporting arriving ships loaded with nothing but corpses! For an excellent documentary on this unjustly forgotten nightmare, see 'INFLUENZA 1918', a PBS special in the St. Louis City Library`s Film Library - both in DVD and VHS.

Mar 17, 2016

Epidemics fascinate me. This read is very, very long, and I felt confused by the author repeating much of it & thought he jumped around too much. This author was excellent in his research, but he could have used an editor & a proof reader. UPDATE: It has taken me nearly 3 weeks to complete this book, however it took the author 7 years to write it. I highly recommend this work, even if one only reads the last chapter, the importance is of great value.

Some real pearls sprinkled in this history lesson. Lots of technical biology, microbio, etc. For me, it was an eye-opener about W.Wilson decisions, leaving me not on the admiring side of his term in office. Not to belabor the issue, but I kept thinking this is a case of US officials certainly didn't have their act together - while Rome burned Nero fiddled - while thousands died the gov't sat on their thumbs. To give credit, 'we' were incredibly naive & blind. The panic & terror of this pandemic caused untold deaths not so much in the disease, but due to starvation of those infected.

I was not the least bit surprised with the majority belief that is was NOT Spanish Influenza as so commonly referred to. Sound reasoning why it's a misnomer. The number of deaths from this contagion is staggering & frightening. As a companion read at the same time is Last of the Dough Boys - excellent history lesson on The Great War despite the audio is not the voice I prefer.


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