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The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History (Revised Edition)
The Great Influenza The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History - Revised Edition Author:John M. Barry 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 wa... more »s not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease.« less
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This excellent well-researched book covers the rise of modern medicine in America, the state of the home front during America's surge to World War I, and the path of influenza through it all. It's a wonderful history of the early 1900s that I can highly recommend, and there's not too much virology, either, if you're worried about that. There is enough, of course, to emphasize that the next great flu is coming and we are unprepared. (Wonderful news, no?)
Did you know: The regular old influenza that hits every year kills more people than AIDS - around 36,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. The influenza pandemic in 1918-1919 killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years.
Mr. Barry brought up an interesting question. Should the 1918 influenza virus genetic code be published? It would, of course, help scientists around the world develop potential vaccines and even better medications. It could also give sophisticated terrorists another powerful weapon. I didn't try to find out if it's been published yet.
There are dangers to reading this book on an airplane in December, as I did, listening to people all over the plane cough and sneeze their germs into the air. I'm not sure I'd recommend that plan.
This is a VERY thorough book about the Influenza Pandemic that killed millions of people world wide between 1917 and around 1920. The author gives a nice overview of the progression of medical science from around the 1500's up until the pandemic hits. I found that very interesting. However, once the author began writing about the actual pandemic, I found that he used many more words to say what could have been said in fewer. I think this 465 page book could have been just as effective, and a little less boring if he had cut off about 65 of those pages. He repeats himself a lot and really goes on and on about some subjects in order to impress upon the reader how bad the conditions really were. I can respect that, however, by the time I was 2/3 of the way through the book, I was ancy for it to end. That's too bad because it is apparent the author did a lot of excellent research and really knew his subject in order to prepare and write this book. But overall, it is a very informative and interesting case history about what happened when the pandemic hit right in the middle of WW I.