Kirsty Darbyshire's Reviews > Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World

Pale Rider by Laura Spinney
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it was amazing
bookshelves: paperback

A completely brilliant mix of science and history exploring the causes and effects of the Spanish Flu epidemic that followed in the wake of the First World War in 1919. Spoiler (not much of one): the Spanish had nothing to do with it, they were just the west's chosen fall guy of the time. Not everyone blamed Spain, other places picked whoever they fancied maligning at the time: "In Senegal it was the Brazilian flu and in Brazil the German flu, while the Danes thought it 'came from the south'. The Poles called it the Bolshevik disease, the Persians blamed the British, and the Japanese blamed their wrestlers: after it first broke out at a sumo tournament, they dubbed it 'sumo-flu'.".

This was excellent information filled writing - I was waiting for that chapter you often get in non-fiction books where the author gives up on the story and dumps their research straight onto you but happily it never arrived - the book stays thoroughly well written and entertaining all the way through.

It feels apposite to have just finished reading this as the world worries about the spread of coronavirus from Wuhan but the book makes you realise that there will always be another epidemic waiting in the wings to have its day. A brief mention of how a pandemic of bubonic plague in the sixth century CE led to global cooling really had my brain going off on some rather sobering trains of thought. It might be a history book but it's definitely not just about the past.

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Reading Progress

January 2, 2020 – Started Reading
January 2, 2020 – Shelved
January 2, 2020 – Shelved as: paperback
January 12, 2020 – Finished Reading

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