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Influenza 1918: The Worst Epidemic in American History (The American Experience)
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Influenza 1918: The Worst Epidemic in American History (The American Experience)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  76 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
This is the Powerful Historical Account of the Worst season of death in American history. Just as American troops were claiming victory in Europe during World War I, a silent killer spread across America and the world. Assumed by physicians to be a bacteria, the killer was in fact a culprit that medicine had not yet discovered: a virus. Unable to fight it, the whitecoated ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by TV Books
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Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
My great-uncle died of Spanish flu in 1918 in a teeny town in Utah. He was in his 20s and it always seemed odd to me that he died of the flu, of all things. This book explained so much to me about Spanish flu and how it was different from other influenzas (killing young, healthy people). It was frightening to watch the epidemic unfold in this book because everyone seemed powerless to contain it, and the government was more concerned about raising money and men for the war than about the scope of ...more
May 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Read for my DLS NF RA SIG. The book is oddly repetitive but still interesting, and a pretty fast read. "In four years, three months, and five days, World War I claimed some ten million lives. In ten months, Spanish influenza killed between twenty-one and forty million people." A staggering number of people died world-wide and a vast number were ill with this deadly strain of influenza. A major impact on many, many lives but not much acknowledged or remembered. Interesting in light of recent Swin ...more
Feb 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of the more interesting books that I have read recently. I had no idea that the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic was as horrifying as it was, and I am left wondering WHY the Black Death receives so much more attention from scholars, documentary filmmakers, and etc.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in American (or world) history. The author writes with a narrative style, using lots of first-person accounts, and so it is very accessible.
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wanted this book to be much more informative than it actually was. Too much rehashed information. Death, dying, blah, blah, blah. I skimmed the last 100 pages. I wanted more, because this subject is fascinating to me, especially when you think about the pandemic flu that will happen in the hopefully not too near future.
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Something must be sick about me, I just love books about epidemics. It's amazing how a germ can change the course of the world and how it went to every corner of the earth in these times. This epidemic killed more people than the war raging at the same time, yet is talked about a lot less. But we have family stories on both sides about its effects.
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
After reading this, bird flu jokes aren't quite so funny any more. This was a fascinating book about something that's rarely talked about in US History classes, partially because it took place during WWI, and partially because people were so frightened by it, that when it was over, they barely spoke about it.
Rogue Reader
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: medicine
I was aware of the devastation but not of the extent, 10%-20% mortality at the beginning and reaching 40%-50% in some circumstances. Horrifying contrast of the war effort in the face of disease, and of Wilson's insistence on sending troop ships to Europe, with so many dying of the flu in transit.
Oct 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Interesting in the beginning, but extremely repetitive. Just story after story about sick people. Not much bigger context or aftermath/impact about it. Just sick and dying sick and dying sick and dying over and over. Skimmed the second half.
Mar 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
a very good read and very humbling. A nice Ken Burns esque review of the horror of the fall of 1918.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
My first history of medicine book (8 years ago)and I was hooked. It does a good job of explaining things for the layman.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
The worst epidemic in American history
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent. Review coming soon on
Mary Beth
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating!
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