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

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Scott Brick

19 Hours 27 Minutes

Penguin Audio

March 2006

Audio Book Summary

In the winter of 1918, at the height of World War I, 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 between modern science and epidemic disease. Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research, THE GREAT INFLUENZA weaves together multiple narratives, with characters ranging from William Welch, founder of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, to John D. Rockefeller and Woodrow Wilson. Ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy, this crisis provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon.

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  • Mudassar B.

    The books highlights the horrors of the 1918 influenza, horrors which were inadvertently exacerbated by a US government at war which ironically was trying to keep the spirits of its population high.

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  • Richard B.

    I tell my friends this is a thriller! John Barry lays out in graphic detail the epic saga of the battle between scientists and the greatest pandemic in history. Ultimately science prevails and today has demonstrated that no disease has a chance against modern technologies. Because of the genius of many, Taiwan was able to STOP COVID-19 IN ITS TRACKS and has already reopened schools and donated millions of masks to the US and Europe. Taiwan only had 5 deaths as of 3/4/2020 from C19 and showed the world how to properly react to a highly contagious and lethal plague.

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  • Anonymous

    One of the best books I ever read!

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  • She and She.

    Very good information helps make people aware how Dangerous the Flu could be.

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  • Carina Ward

    Great book. Super interesting. I was on the edge of my seat.

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  • Anonymous

    At first I was really wondering if this book had a point. Then, as it went on, it was clear that all the "extraneous" information was not only essential to really understanding what happened, but it was interesting. We really have not come all that far in medicine.

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  • Anonymous

    I'd read about the pandemic and heard my mother's stories about how her sister had died from influenza. But this book tells the story so well that it makes the influenza pandemic a real and tangible thing as if it happened in recent memory and may very well happen again in our lifetime. I wish more people would read this book. There would be less fear of vaccines and greater respect for public health & illness prevention.

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  • E. Weisz

    Fascinating book. Although technical in many aspects, the book provided great insight into the history of medical practice in the 19th & 20th century and kept the tragic story of the epidemic as almost a mystery novel. highly recommend.+

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  • Sharon Bennett

    This was a great book. Riveting to listen to. I sometimes stayed in the driveway to listen to the last 15 minutes or so of the CD. Great if you are interested in history, medicine, pandemics, public health service, or just want to understand more about the culture of science or WWI America. The book is fantastic to listen to and while long, is well worth the listen. I am half-way through the second set of CDs, and I am still awed.

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  • DJG

    I found this book to be very interesting and informative. Though it was long, it revealed a lot of detail that I found interesting in light of my desired to know history and this gave a very clear picture of Woodrow Wilson and WWI and how it helped the spread of the disease. The Flue only.

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