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The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the…
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The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

by John M. Barry

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2,279712,803 (3.9)2 / 158
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Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
'The Great Influenza' is definitely a book that has some surprises for the reader. Certainly the book provides a detailed history of the world's worst pandemic. It clearly describes the spread of the disease worldwide including its multiple waves. There is a concise clinical description of the virus and an excellent discussion of its unique characteristics that make it so lethal. The surprise is the contextual information that explains why the virus spread so rapidly. The misnomer Spanish influenza occurred at nearly the "perfect storm" of several factors.

First factor (described in great detail) was the sorry state of American medicine and practitioners at the beginning of the 20th century. In itself, this section of the book is worth the read as a history of the development of American medical practice.

The second factor was the draconian information practices put in place by the Wilson administration for WWI. The news media was prohibited from printing any negative information (even though truthful) under severe penalties. Thus, any reporting of a pandemic was reported as "ordinary flu" or not reported at all.

Finally, the rapid mobilization and movement of troops provided a near perfect environment for the virus to spread. Over crowded barracks of soldiers from across the country with poor sanitation promoted the spread of the flu. Despite dire warnings from the Army Surgeon General, Army leadership prioritized military needs over the disease risks.

Overall, 'The Great Influenza' is an excellent reference for an important time in our history. ( )
  libri_amor | Apr 27, 2016 |
Incredibly detailed, and to answer another Shelfari member's question, yes, I did at times wonder if I was going to finish this book. I had just read another incredibly detailed nonfiction work, so perhaps it was just too much at once. Sometimes I thought the author tried to spice it up with some melodramatic statements which just made the book more lengthy. But the whole idea of it was enough to keep me listening to the end (I listened to CD version read by Scott Brick - a very good reader). There was a lot more historical information in the book than I thought would be presented including many fascinating facts.
Not a light read, but an interesting one! I might have enjoyed an abridged version just as well. ( )
  KylaS | Feb 18, 2016 |
This book goes into GREAT detail the people and the place most affected by the by the Great Influenza. I found the beginning history of the John Hopkins to be really fascinating. It also makes me wonder what would happen if we had a world wide epidemic like this again. ( )
  JWarrenBenton | Jan 4, 2016 |
This book goes into GREAT detail the people and the place most affected by the by the Great Influenza. I found the beginning history of the John Hopkins to be really fascinating. It also makes me wonder what would happen if we had a world wide epidemic like this again. ( )
  JWarrenBenton | Jan 4, 2016 |
Bit disappointing that Australia was left to the very end and then brushed off by saying that it wasn't as severe here. My two great-aunts who died from the influenza might beg to disagree. ( )
  drmaf | Oct 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
John M. Barry calls The Great Influenza "the epic story of the deadliest plague in history," but his book is somewhat more idiosyncratic than epic and in any case is not as interested in the 1918 influenza pandemic as in the careers of those American medical researchers who studied the disease.
added by John_Vaughan | editlection, Tim morris (Jun 26, 2011)
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143036491, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:33 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In the winter of 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 weeks than AIDS has 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, John M. Barry's The Great Influenza weaves together multiple narratives, with characters ranging from William Welch (founder of Johns Hopkins Medical School) to John D. Rockefeller and Woodrow Wilson. Ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy, this crisis provides a precise and sobering model for our world as we confront AIDS, bioterrorism and other, as yet unknown, diseases.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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