Joel's Reviews > The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
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May 29, 2007

it was ok
Read in May, 2007

Like a poorly crafted pop song, this book is full of occasional flashes of intelligence and brilliance, but is brought down to the level of the two star by it's repetitive nature and bogged down by details.

Okay, the metaphor doesn't really work with the "bogged down by details" part, but other than that, it's apt.

In attempts to create a rhythm, and strike a melodic note with his writing, Barry uses phrases he thinks are poignant to the point of annoyance. It's honestly like that Debbie Gibson song "Shake Your Love." Well, John M. Barry, you're not shaking my love anymore.

He does Shake My Love during the best parts of the book: the graphic details of the disease itself. But when it comes to relaying the nature of it's affects on various cities and people, it certainly unshakes my love. Unshakes my love with a passion.

The subject matter tends to be so new and fascinating that it keeps you reading, and the 2nd third of the book is worth the time spent on the rest. All told, let's just say I hope there isn't another devestating influenza like the one of 1918-1919 so we don't have to sit through another John M. Barry retelling of it.

Oh, and also 'cause the 50+ million deaths sounds pretty shitty.
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