Listening to this book was like unpacking a shipping crate of delicate glassware - it had a lot of filler but you'd uncover an occassional piece of crystal. The detailed history of medical education and the development of scientific medicine were very interesting, though unexpected. The narratives about governments struggling to deal with the pandemic were instructive. The biographies were good. The voluminous and repetitive statistics and editorial commentary were unbearable. I gave up.
This is a fascinating book that ties together the development of American medicine in the early 20th century and an exhaustive look at the 1918-9 influenza epidemic. I learned a lot as the author gave a detailed background on medical research and its successes and failures prior to the pandemic. He sometimes gets carried away with his prose and goes into more detail than I wanted on some of the medical biograpies, but it was still very interesting. The narration is good and the author's research on the topic seems to be top-notch (though one of the problems with audio books is that it is hard to flip to the back of the book to check the endnotes or even the bibliography). It is a long read, but if you have a real interest in the subject, it is one that will educate and provoke a lot of thought about how we would deal with a similar pandemic today.
I have mixed feelings about this book. The narrator does an excellent job, and kept me listening after I would have quit. The book is excruciatingly slow to get to the meat of the story, the influenza outbreak. I read a lot about infectious disease, and some of the books are slow and/or dry, but this one was worse by far. The first hours are just back ground stuff, in great detail, history of John Hopkins, history of medical degrees, doctors, researchers, down to how they dressed and looked and spoke, where they lived, how they rented rooms from, who their friends were, how those friendships changes. Quite frankly - I DON'T CARE! I want to know about the flu epidemic! Any pertinent back ground, what little was important, could have been given in a few paragraphs, a few pages at the very most, and I'm not exaggerating. Not at all. I kept looking at the time, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3.5 hours, and still this book had gone no where! I finally put the speed on fast. I was greatly tempted just to fast forward, but was afraid to miss anything that was actually about the supposed subject of the book, you know, the Great Influenza that is the TITLE of the book. In addition, I found the frequent and blatant American elitism extremely annoying. The author is very condescending about non-American medical professionals, institutions, colleges and researchers even though the early American medical degrees are described as nothing more than a certificate for attending a few lectures while other countries had actual colleges and real medical degrees. It is also clearly stated that these American researchers built upon work already done by foreign researchers. Statements such as "american doctor/researcher such and such was THE BEST in the WHOLE WORLD or the leader in such and such field in of the whole world. It got old and tiresome really quickly.
Once you get past the beginning fluff (literally hours) and get used to or ignore the rather heavy handed america elitism, the books gets more on topic and was more interesting. Though the narrator does a great job, I wish I had read this one so I could have skimmed through the beginning fast and easy instead of wasting hours of listening time.
If the narrator could have been way less dramatic and the author would not have talked about the entire life history if EVERY single researcher or scientist.
Way too dramatic and slow. It was like he was reading Shakespeare.
The entire first half if the book. I would have left out all the info on the researchers lives and just focused on the actual influenza outbreak.
The realization of how easily this traveled
Just the story...
Faster than you think...
Makes you think just how easily things can still be spread...
The story of the "Great Influenza" is an important one, and this book attempts to tell it well. Unfortunately, it is about 30% too long for the source material used, and the narrator reads every sentence as if it were the last line of an epic poem. More information about the plague around the world would have helped, as well as less influence on certain of the scientists who contributed little. The author sermonizes too much, and the narrator's style exacerbates this tendency. I enjoyed it most of the time, but often wished it were shorter.
Truly one of my best reads in years. I found myself repeating sections of the book, just because they were that good.
I'd like both, please! As a writer of notes in the margin, I would love a paper copy to add to the audio version. The Audible technology does not easily adapt to notes and markers and I hope to see upgrades that improve this aspect.
History of a killer in our midst - influenza. Although I had heard that it killed many people in 1917-1920, I did not know the story, nor did I recognize the pandemic - lives were lost world-wide. Further, the importance for the present decade was not strongly apparent until the end of this book.
This would be a great book for a book club or group studying organizational design. The politics of information and communication, and governmental/political power...the horror of mass death and family/town impact....the idea of infection control and social contact in every day activities...each of these themes could be followed with illustrations from this book.
This is not a book of scenes. But the life stories of scientists studying the source and progress of influenza was absorbing.
No - I listened and re-listened in chunks. Lots to comprehend!
An amazing piece. While I doubt my book club would find it entertaining, I would embrace the idea of having others to chat with about the message of this book.
Please read this book and tell all your friends and family to read this book. This book, at least the middle third, should be mandatory for all HS Seniors! The book is outstanding!!! Lets hope we do better next time.
I love history and enjoy reading different books about the past. I like to joke that I have read many books about the outcome at Gettysburg, but no matter how many I read the outcome remains the same! I do find it interesting and fascinating to get different takes and outlooks on the same events.
The writer did not simply confine his story to the influenza outbreak alone. Instead he made an effort to capture the time, and an outstanding effort it was.
That the writer went to exceptional detail in describing the impact of the outbreak on the members of the Woodrow Wilson administration during the Versailles Peace Talks. This was very interesting to me.
It was outstanding.
The description of the impact of the outbreak on local and city governments. How the outbreak was dealt with at the local level was an extraordinary tale.
Listen to his book. Well performed and extremely well researched and written.