I had heard about a flu epidemic in 1918, but had never realized how awful it actually was. Two of my ancestors died of the flu within one week of each other in October 1918. I had discovered this while researching my genealogy. This made me want to find out more about it, and this book was very educational for me. I find the flu's effect on World War I quite remarkable. It must have been a very scary time to live through.
Thsi book is an excellent overview of the Spanish flu epidemic of some 90 years ago. With that being said, it is very detailed with a ton of medical jargon. If you would cut out the real down in the weeds medical jargon and other unneeded parts the book would probably be cut down to six or seven hours. The author goes into great detail about the early years of the doctors which is probably not needed for the casual listener. Overall, it is a decent listen.
I agree with an earlier review--this book would have been much better at half the length. There is much in it that has little to do with the Great Influenza of 1918. It does, however, lay out enough of the Great Flu story and impact on the times to be worthwhile. I would recommend readers start with Chapter 6--the first signs of the flu in Kansas. You will save about 5 hours--time well saved.
What a powerful book! I love history and if you do you'll love this one too. I do think that the author needs to be reminded that the Johns Hopkins University is a Quaker college. But other than his ranting against religion, he is quite good. What a time in HISTORY.
A brilliant piece of storytelling that spans an age so close to our times, but one that's nearly irretrievable in terms of our ordinary experience.
However - and this is a big however - Scott Brick's narration is SO syrupy, sing-songy, and melodramatic that I found it very difficult to listen to. Brick appears to be the favorite narrator of the audiobook world, but his delivery is so cloying that it actually undermines the drama native to the account of the 1918 epidemic. History doesn't need to be acted as though it were a radio melodrama.
I don't know what annoyed me most about listening to this audiobook - the extreme repetitiveness and heavy-handed foreshadowing of the text, or Scott Brick's over-the-top breathless narration. I was constantly being distracted from the very interesting information that the author was imparting by the very annoying way in which that information was being imparted. It's really too bad, because the topic is interesting and parts of the story well-told (when Barry (and Brick) were not waxing hyperbolic ). One significant problem I noted with an audio version of this book is that in many parts Barry will be quoting from a series of primary sources, each of which says much the same thing -his purpose is to show what the various media were reporting, or scientists saying, but without being able to see on the page that it is a series of quotes, and without introductory passages for each quote, it comes across as if the "repeat" button got stuck.
The narative style can be grating at times, but the underlying story is well told and it is fascinating. There is a bit too much emphasis on flawed historical figures that in the end don't factor into the story. The ending is strong, highlighting the severity of the problem and the inadequacy of our preparations.
A good beach book.
This really is a very interesting book that covers a lot of ground but does so clearly and concisely. With a story like this I’d imagine it is hard to decide what to keep in and leave out, and I think that is well done here. I work in public policy in this area (public health) and have been glad I read this on a number of occasions. It most definitely educated me on a topic that translates to today on a number of levels – not just flu.
As a history book, it’s not high drama and ends up a bit dry in a few places – but I did find it all interesting.
Avid Listener of Audible
The book was good; but you had to wait to really get to the meat of the story. The author painstakingly sets up the players (scientists and doctors) in the book. Sometimes it can lead your mind to wander. He also tends to repeat basic premises throughout the book, which I got the first time. There are very interesting parts though, so I would not say it's a waste of time, just a bit wordy.
The first half of this book is fantastic, I learned so much about american medical/scientific history that I had no idea about. It was really fascinating, well written and I found it riveting and suprising. He weaves a seamless connection between the history of the US medical establishment, the United States in WWI and the science of infectious diseases.
Unfortunately the second half is just way too long, he should have stopped writing and called it good. I am still recommending it, but when you start getting bored with the endless descriptions of the search for the disease, you can just skip to the last chapter and wrap it up.