Pale Rider

Pale Rider

The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World

Book - 2017
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"The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was one of the greatest human disasters of all time. It infected a third of the people on Earth--from the poorest immigrants of New York City to the king of Spain, Franz Kafka, Mahatma Gandhi and Woodrow Wilson. But despite a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people, it exists in our memory as an afterthought to World War I. In this gripping narrative history, Laura Spinney traces the overlooked pandemic to reveal how the virus traveled across the globe, exposing mankind's vulnerability and putting our ingenuity to the test. As socially significant as both world wars, the Spanish flu dramatically disrupted--and often permanently altered--global politics, race relations and family structures, while spurring innovation in medicine, religion and the arts. It was partly responsible, Spinney argues, for pushing India to independence, South Africa to apartheid and Switzerland to the brink of civil war. It also created the true "lost generation." Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology and economics, Pale Rider masterfully recounts the little-known catastrophe that forever changed humanity"--Amazon.
Publisher: London : Jonathan Cape, 2017.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781910702376
Branch Call Number: 614.518 SPI
Characteristics: 332 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm


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Nov 13, 2018

Spinney's book joins a surge of interest in the 1918-19 epidemic now that it is coming up to its centenary. Unlike many books that concentrate on its effects in one city or country, hers is a truly global approach to the pandemic. As a science writer, she focuses on the disease, its manifestations and the scientific response, but she also interweaves this with a consciousness of how the experience of suffering and recovering from the flu leached out into music and literature in the succeeding decade.

For my complete review see

JCLMelissaHH Oct 12, 2018

I’ll admit- I’m obsessed with the 1918 influenza epidemic. I devour any and every book written about the subject and conduct my own research in my free time. Laura Spinney’s treatment of the epidemic comes at its 100th anniversary, but many mysteries remain to be unraveled including accurate estimates of the death toll. There has been a small explosion of publishing on the subject; Spinney’s stands out from the in its purposefully global perspective. The vast majority of research and analysis has been in the United States and Europe even though statistics available shortly after the last wave of flu receded evidenced a much greater death toll in South America, Africa, and south Asia. Spinney traces the magnified impacts to dramatic social upheaval such as the independence movement in India and the rise of apartheid in South Africa. In pushing past the medical aspects common to most writing on the 1918 flu and drawing on economic, psychological, and sociological research, Spinney delivers a fuller portrait of what actually happened during the epidemic around the whole world and how its catastrophic impacts continue a century later.

May 18, 2018

Spends most of the book detailing where the outbreaks of the so-called Spanish flu occurred.
With the lack of contemporary public health protocols as well as the dominance of germ theory and the lack of scientific work on viruses, treatment of the flu was ill-equipped to manage outbreaks. Epidemiology had to mature to gather reliable data on the flu disease.

We don't know how many people died from influenza. The estimated infection rate of 1 of every 3 people, as well as the high death rates of infection--anywhere from 50-90 %, yield staggering estimates of 20 m who reportedly died, to possibly up to 5 x that number in actuality.

Certainly the threat of another pandemic remains. An important warning of the future.

DBRL_ReginaF Feb 13, 2018

I was so engrossed in this book! The affects of that 1918 flu pandemic were so catastrophic, so lasting, and yet so overshadowed by WWI.

Feb 07, 2018

I believe that this is the first book on the subject that I've seen go beyond northern North America and Western Europe in terms of the pandemic's course and effects. Again well-researched and the writing is accessible and interesting, even if the subject is a bit grisly.

Dec 11, 2017

I wish KCL or SPL would acquire this as ebook or even large print for the vision impaired. Yes, I know it's a audio download, but have you listened to the reader?

Oct 01, 2017

A well done book about the Spanish Flu around the world in 1918. Lots of very good research. If you like history and books about the flu this is a good one. No one knows where it started, could be one of three places. You can read about all three and get a better understanding about the flu and how fast it went around the world.

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