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

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The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic I History by John M. Berry

Virology fascinates me and that is why I read this book. At almost 500 pages it is not a quick weekend read, nor should it be. Mr. Berry writes two books in one in the telling of this bit of history. First is the history of medicine, what it was like to be a doctor, what was required to be a doctor in the United States before World War I. Some of the reviews that I have read about this book say this part is unnecessary to the telling of the flu’s tale. I happen to disagree. I think that knowing how things ran, and then how they were changed in the study of the flu is a great part of the story.

The second part of this book is about the flu itself and how leaders/communities reacted to the outbreak.  Some of the things I knew like the closing of public places, others I did not, like making it illegal to spit on the sidewalk. (I wish that one was still in forced). I found it amazing how President Wilson when the US went into the war controlled everything. This may not seem like an important detail but think about the fear of not getting the truth when everyone around you is dying.

Now, for a bit of what bothered me about this book. It was not a horrible thing it was just that some of it was repetitive.

I would recommend this book to history buffs and those with an interest in medical history.

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2 thoughts on “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

  1. It is shocking to learn that more people died in the Flu Pandemic than in World War I. Staggering losses in both.

    • Yes, it was and in all reports they now think that the death toll from the Flu was much higher as at the time people quit keeping records of the ones who died.

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