Synopses & Reviews
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 Influenza may also change the way we see the world.
"[A] sweeping history....Barry captures the sense of panic and despair that overwhelmed stricken communities and hits hard at those who failed to use their power to protect the public good." Publishers Weekly
"[F]ascinating....Barry produces a sharp account of the epidemic's sudden onset....Barry also underlines the dismaying speed with which many survivors forgot the great influenza outbreak almost as soon as it appeared to end." Howard Markel, The Washington Post Book World
"A keen recounting of the 1918-20 pandemic....Majestic, spellbinding treatment of a mass killer." Kirkus Reviews
Praise for Rising Tide: An important contribution to history and literature. (Los Angeles Times) Praise for Rising Tide: Extraordinary . . . an accomplished and important social history. (The New York Times Book Review)
The terrifying story of the first modern "plague," the 1918 influenza epidemic that began in an army camp in Kansas, then exploded across the world. Through this epidemic John Barry depicts America at a watershed moment in its history, to show how the war and the disease were woven together, how politics and public health collide, how almost unstoppable a pandemic can be even in the 21st century. Barry is also the author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America.
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. 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.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -527) and index.
About the Author
John M. Barry is the author of four previous works of history, including the highly acclaimed Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. He is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Center for Bioenvironmental Research of Tulane and Xavier universities.
Table of Contents
Part I: THE WARRIORS 9
Part II: THE SWARM 89
Part III: THE TINDERBOX 117
Part IV: IT BEGINS 167
Part V: EXPLOSION 195
Part VI: THE PESTILENCE 229
Part VII: THE RACE 253
Part VIII: THE TOLLING OF THE BELL 297
Part IX: LINGERER 367
Part X: ENDGAME 399