Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Great Influenza

Reading history is fun when the history is well written and presented in a compelling narrative. John Barry's account of the influenza epidemic of 1918 is just that. I found his account to be well-researched. He complements the scientific detail, including clear accounts of the scientific process, with biographical narrative highlighting the lives of the major players, researchers, scientists, doctors. After an introduction that enlightens the reader about the development of what we know as modern medicine he interlaces the spread of the epidemic with details about the political ramifications. While at times a gruesome story, with death counts incredible to comprehend, it is a human and humane story of people who strove to conquer a terrible plague that spread throughout the world.

The Great Influenza, John Barry. Viking, New York, 2004.

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