Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

An amazing book. Barry started out to review just what had started the epidemic of 1918 and how it was handled, and he got caught up in politics and scientific history and ended up developing the most comprehensive story of this epidemic ever written. He reviews the state of medicine at the time, how it got to that place, and what top researchers were doing. He lays out how the governmental agencies responded and why. He follows how the scientists pursue identification of the cause of the epidemic, what mistakes they make, who they are and why they behave as they do.

The Great Influenza: the story of the deadliest pandemic in history is a history of many men and women as well as the history of the study of bacteriology and virology. In the end, it is also a warning to us. We are not any better prepared than we were in 1918, probably even less prepared. We haven't really learned from it.

The book, though long, is highly readable, intelligently written, clear and detailed, a wealth of information. It is fascinating.

No comments: