Book Review: The Great Influenza: Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

The Great Influenza: Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History – John M. Barry — Penguin Books, 2004/2005

Review By Glenn Koenen – St. Louis

Yes, the parallels startle.

  • The jump from animals (pigs in Kansas) to people escaped notice for longer than it should.
  • The first major infected population spread the disease far and wide at breakneck speed.
  • Governments – especially America’s – bungled the early response.
  • Many of those researching and fighting the disease perished or suffered.
  • Working folks took the biggest financial hit.

True, as the book explains, a pandemic almost by definition is never expected. The response always begins ad hoc as bits of the story pop-up – along with a lot of red herrings and confusion.

Yet, the overall situation mimics past events. Instead of remembering what had been learned, alas, a thousand wrong decisions recreate the same mistakes.

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