The Great Influenza

Read this book while on vacation in Palm Desert March 2005. Good book, really liked the blend of scholarly material and analysis. John Barry really paints a nasty picture of the outbreak in 1918; more people died of influenza in 1918 – 1919 than died in the Black Death in Europe. And the epidemic was global, touching almost every country.

The book brings into clear focus the issues around the value of quarantine for influenza, which is very contagious, such that it really can’t be contained in many other ways. It also discusses how the virus mutated from a mild form to a killer and back again, and discussed how viruses move among hosts (most commonly birds and man but sometimes with the pig in the middle).


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