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Pandemic 1918: The Story of the Deadliest Influenza in History

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,846 ratings  ·  301 reviews
In January 1918, as World War I raged on, a new and terrifying virus began to spread across the globe. In three successive waves, from 1918 to 1919, influenza killed more than 50 million people. German soldiers termed it Blitzkatarrh, British soldiers referred to it as Flanders Grippe, but world-wide, the pandemic gained the notorious title of “Spanish Flu." Nowhere on ear ...more
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published January 11th 2018 by Michael O'Mara
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Diane S ☔
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Fifty million dead world wide, over a third of the worlds population dead in just one year. One could greet a friend in the morning, and find out that person died the next day. I can't even imagine that something, outside of a war could cause such a tragedy as this. Yet, it was the Spanish flu, the Spanish lady that would spread across the globe, leaving heartache and terror in its wake. This book describes how it was spread, where it was spread, but also includes letters, journal and diary enti ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, nonfiction
If you are going to read this book, be forewarned: it is riddled with errors. Honestly, this book is an embarrassment to the craft of editing and it should never have hit the selves in it's current form. A military base changes locations from Texas to Kansas, the author confuses Winston Churchill's wife with his daughter, ect. Then there is the worst of them all:

"Ten to twenty percent of those infected died, a third of the world's population."

Your guess here is as good as mine. Is the author ref
Apr 21, 2019 added it
Shelves: health
The Spanish Flu Was a Form of the Bird Flu

“Who reads books like this? I asked myself as I was reading the first chapter of this book. Still, IO continued to read on. And when I finished reading the book, I realized that I read books like this.

It was just that the book was so boring and respective in the beginning, but then it suddenly became interesting, actually frightening. No wonder we all fear plagues, even the flu.

I had the Hong Kong flu back in 1968. My first husband had it too, and we w
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is a chronological retracing of the Spanish flu progression 1917-1918. Depends heavily on witness and survivor stories from medical records to diaries. Arnold uses these accounts to give voice to it, to take it out of the medical jargon and relay the human effect. The pandemic swept up victims indiscriminately from the rich and famous: Gandhi, Lloyd George, Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pandemic 1918 is the story of The Spanish Flu and the devastating effect it had during the early 20th century.

I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This was a harrowing read. Aside from a passing mention in Dennis Lehane’s “The Given Day”, I’ve been exposed to very little of the devastation caused by the Spanish Flu. It was an absolute monster estimated to have killed upwards of 100 million people worldwide (between 3 and 5 percent of the total populatio
This book is highly anecdotal. It moves from place to place and tells you the happenstance of the dozens and dozens of tragedy epidemic situations (of the exact title) that occurred in 1918-1919. Most usually it was in 3 waves per location (not just national in wave but continental in wave) during that ending of WWI year.

If you want eye witness and name associations in every continent, place/ time of eruptions, than you'll like this book. Because that's about 90% of what's in it. It calls the S
During 1918, while the final stages of the First World War were being thrashed out, the world at large faced a plague of Biblical proportion.
The book follows the progress of the flu's two waves across the world, giving description of the disaster as it unfolds in a near Medieval way and medical science attempts to isolate and provide, if not a cure, then at least some form of preventative measure. Similarly the steps governments took to protect their populations (or in some cases, helped spread
Liz V.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From Spring 1918 through 1919, influenza killed an estimated 100 million people, beginning while the world was convulsed with war.

Some few medical professionals, with experience with earlier pandemics, recognized that the disease represented a threat not seen in centuries, spreading rapidly with the movement of vast numbers of military personnel and the dislocation of civilians and with the usual deleterious effects of prolonged war on a previously unknown scale. Those professionals instituted l
This had haunting parallels with what is happening just now - the difference that social distancing makes and the terrible after effects of mass gatherings (including celebrations to mark the end of the war) plus even the prime minister (Lloyd George) being ill with the virus. The main differences now are that we have better medical care and scientific knowledge (in 1918, they didn't know what a virus was as they didn't yet have microscopes powerful enough to view them). Also the fact that it hi ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was very excited to get this book, so was left highly disappointed after several chapters. Instead of reading like eyewitness accounts as the title suggests, it reads like a very long and dry list of statistics. I heard the History Extra BBC radio podcast with the author and that interview was very engaging and intriguing. So I am surprised how dry the book is. I suppose I prefer narrative history in the style of Mr. Dan Jones.
Doreen Petersen
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medical
You would think we would have learned lessons from the past but we have not. With today's current pandemic we have learned nothing and that is the true tragedy!!! ...more
Dec 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the course of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19, or as it was anthromorphized in the press's cartoonish figure of the "Spanish lady", a female figure with a death's head, dressed in black flamenco-style dress and mantilla. The earliest mention of any widespread epidemic was made by Hippocrates in 412 BC and we have had epidemics and pandemics of different origins and symptoms ever since, including now. The author mentions theories as to its origin, from the possible to the ...more
Literary Redhead

The Spanish Flu killed my great aunt, who left behind a heartbroken husband and three young boys. That tragic event has echoed through generations of my family, so I snatched up PANDEMIC 1918 as soon as it appeared on NetGalley. This is a gripping read, one that needs to be shared in every history class across the land. We learn through eyewitness accounts of the world’s greatest medical holocaust, observing its 100th ann
Book received from NetGalley.

Review to Come
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I typically enjoy reading scientific histories but the grammatical errors and repeated phrases were distracting to me. The author referenced and individual named “Underdown” and within the same paragraph called him “Underwood”. The repeated statements and explanations left me wondering if this book had been edited. I had previously read several descriptive accounts of the Spanish Flu, one being from the Smithsonian, and felt that most of the information in this 300 page book could be summarized ...more
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A terrifying and fascinating read. The descriptions from first hand accounts of the 'Spanish Influenza' are grim and the numbers who died are mind-boggling and hard to visualise. Definitely makes you want to take flu a bit more seriously, not knowing when the next pandemic is going to come along.

I think Sir Tony Robinson's quote on this book says it all, "A coherent, well-researched and sanitary reminder that another pandemic could be just around the corner".
Alice Chau-Ginguene
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book with great research on Spanish flu. Great read especially during the covid-19 pandemic, it helps us to compare what we did 100 years ago and some of the same mistake we are making now.
The scary thing is some of the lies are word by word 100 years fast forward. “It’s nothing to worry about” “everything is ok”.
It’s unbelievable how we don’t learn from our mistakes in the past.
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Published just two years ago, there hasn’t been a more important book for what are collectively living through at the moment. Instead of issuing fines for people breaking the lockdown rules, by sunbathing in the park, they should simply be given this book. A very sobering but well informed read.
Brandon Forsyth
This wasn’t a particularly well written book (and some of the other reviewers have rightly call out some of the more bewildering sentences), but there’s a kernel of a good idea about a sort of people’s history of the last major global pandemic that carried me through. If nothing else, it did make me feel better about the covid-19 outbreak in the starkly different ways citizens, scientists, businesses, and governments are responding to this pandemic. Probably not worth your time, but interesting.
Feb 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, medicine
"Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." A vicious illness about which little is known, doctors shouting an early warning that is largely ignored, a president hesitant to make hard decisions for fear of political backlash, some cities faring better than others based on their leaders' willingness to embrace closures and "lockdown," and most citizens willing to wear masks while a selfish few refuse -- does any of this sound familiar? If it does, rest assured it would also h ...more
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for two reasons, first because I'm the kind of person who copes with tragedy by delving deeper into it to find catharsis, and second, because being that kind of person, I was looking to develop a library program of dramatic readings from primary source material from the Spanish Flu year. Too many of the people who would have needed to help to pull off that program found the idea too depressing in the midst of our COVID year, so that never happened, but I did enjoy the book. It was th ...more
A Reader's Heaven
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

Before AIDS or Ebola, there was the Spanish Flu — Catharine Arnold's gripping narrative, Pandemic 1918, marks the 100th anniversary of an epidemic that altered world history.
In January 1918, as World War I raged on, a new and terrifying virus began to spread across the globe. In three successive waves, from 1918 to 1919, influenza killed more than 50 million people. German soldiers termed it Blitzkatarrh, Brit
I've always found the Spanish flu fascinating, simply because we don't hear much about it. It had never been mentioned in any of my history classes in high school; it was only when I took a course in Twentieth Century European history that I heard of the Spanish flu for the first time.

This book is a good overview of the Spanish flu epidemic, and I definitely learned a few new things. It's based on people's personal experiences during the epidemic, so there's not an overarching organization to t
During the last year of the First World War, a new strain of influenza swept the globe killing around 100 million people. Known as the Spanish Flu or Spanish Lady, it didn't care about gender, skin colour, wealth or status, and killed healthy individuals who would not have usually succumbed to a virus. Arnold looks at how it began, how it spread and how different governments and organisations dealt with the crisis. This was an interesting book, very well-written, and highlights some parallels wi ...more
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lots of notes in this book, as some have indicated there are a few mistakes at the beginning of the book, for all that this still gives us the all too horrific cases of normal and famous people coming down with this virus, some really interesting points about scientific knowledge during this period and the later investigations looking to trace the virus in the middle and latter parts of the 20th Century, something which I would like to read more about. Very easy to read although harrowing in lar ...more
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How terrifyingly familiar... telling the stories from the horribly virulent and often fatal Spanish influenza, this virus went after the strong and healthy.

Humanity was fighting not only a world war but also an unseen one against a virus that ravaged entire countries, so many millions died from this virus.

Here’s hoping we have learnt from our mistakes, some of the stories told here are absolutely heartbreakingly sad.
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating book about something the world has largely (and quite quickly) forgotten about. There's certainly no better time to read a book like this. It's kind of like telling scary stories in the dark - you could do it in the daytime but it wouldn't have the same effect. Lots of anecdotal stories if that's what you want to interested in. ...more
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fascinating (and gross) read. A great warning if we refuse to follow social distancing and stay at home guidelines right now as Covid-19 rears its head around the world.
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
What a book to read in 2021 during Covid 19. This really gave me incredible perspective. We are so blessed and spoiled! We are going through literally no sacrifice! The Spanish flu killed upwards of 100 million souls between 1918-1919. And if you think you have it bad, please read this book. I learned SO much and I'm so grateful to be alive now. ...more
Nov 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: medical, nonfiction
So many parallels with the 2020 Pandemic, and so many examples of where we have not learned the lessons from the past that we should have done.
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Catharine Arnold read English at Cambridge and holds a further degree in psychology. A journalist, academic and popular historian, Catharine's previous books include the novel "Lost Time", winner of a Betty Trask award. Her London trilogy for Simon & Schuster comprises of "Necropolis: London and Its Dead", "Bedlam: London and Its Mad" and "City of Sin: London and Its Vices". ...more

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