A fascinating look at a bizarre, forgotten epidemic from the national best-selling author of The American Plague.
In 1918, a world war raged, and a lethal strain of influenza circled the globe. In the midst of all this death, a bizarre disease appeared in Europe. Eventually known as encephalitis lethargica, or sleeping sickness, it spread worldwide, leaving millions dead or locked in institutions. Then, in 1927, it disappeared as suddenly as it had arrived. Asleep, set in 1920s and '30s New York, follows a group of neurologists through hospitals and asylums as they try to solve this epidemic and treat its victims - who learned the worst fate was not dying of it, but surviving it.
©2011 Molly Caldwell Crosby (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I can say without equivocation that Christian Rummel's performance brought this book to a brilliant life. In any audio book the story may be of the greatest interest, but if the narration is lacking, then something is lost from the beginning. Asleep is one book that has it all. We have a powerfully entertaining mystery of non-fiction - those that make you hold your hand to your mouth after an audible gasp. Asleep is difficult to bookmark because you are always anticipating what awaits beyond the next page.
Medical histories are not for everyone, but if you can put away any preconceived notions, you will walk away from this one with a new-found appreciation for the subject matter.
I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."
During the Great Flu epidemic of WWI, there was an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica —or “sleeping sickness”— that left its victims permanently disabled, a plague of catatonic lethargy. Some people were comatose for years-- and it could recur at any time.
What was it?
This medical-mystery drama, by award-winning reporter Molly Caldwell Crosby, follows the doctors, scientists, and patients of the time as they tried to solve the origins of this disease.
You may remember Oliver Sacks’s "Awakenings" chronicled his work curing the sleeping sickness victim. But science has yet to find the cause of the epidemic, the "why?"
Crosby's book turns a corner in these “sleep” conversations that will have you wide awake to the most chilling prospects yet.
I am obsessed with learning. Either about history of society, epidemiology or spirituality. I would say I'm a seeker.
One of the best
Rabies, ties to epidemiology
I thought it was fine.
A fascinating book. Definitely worth the read time. It taught me a lot of the history of disease and started me on a journey to a fascination with epidemiology. This is one of the most interesting diseases I have ever read about and this book did a great job of break that down. The stories meandered a little bit at some point but not book is perfect and a tiny bit a patience got me through certain books. I would recommend to anyone!
Greedy, voracious reader since age five. After a number of eye injuries & surgeries, reading is hard. So now, I listen.
This book about encephalitis lethargica is well researched and well written by a woman whose grandmother survived this disease, but mentally damaged. The book examines several case histories, including hers, in detail, to show the wide range of physical and behavioral symptoms that made this disease so baffling for doctors and difficult for families. Its victims, mostly young people, sickened suddenly and fell asleep, for weeks for months. Some woke eventually, some died. Some could function normally again; many suffered degrees of mental/emotional impairment; some displayed uncontrollable anger or became psychotic, suicidal, homicidal (this included small children), others remained 'frozen' like the ones Dr. Oliver Sacks found in a hospital decades after the last outbreak and wrote about in "Awakenings". During two early 20th century pandemic waves of this disease, medical researchers tried to figure out agent was causing it, how it was transmitted, how it might be cured. No luck. Was it linked to pandemic flu?
Rare, sporadic cases still occur. The author makes the point that we may be in terrible trouble if there is another pandemic flu, and another pandemic of encephalitis lethargica.
The details and the fascinating history that is given
The Great Pearl
Current times compared to previous history of flu
all of it
Great non-fiction with fascinating case history of the illness
I like how the author not only discusses the cases of encephalopathy lethargica but she discusses what is happening in history and the environment at the same time. The environment impacts us in so many ways. This is a great nonfiction book. Who knew JP Morgan's wife had this? Loved the descriptions of late 19th century early 20th century New York.
This book is far more than a medical book about a mysterious disease that happened years ago. It is also a very interesting take on the socioeconomic conditions of those times up to today. I was completely absorbed throughout.
The narrator, Christian Rummel, was absolutely perfect for this book. Just enough emotion and intonation. Will be looking at more books this gentleman has participated in.
Chronic multi-tasker; Audible feeds my addiction to well loved genres, and allows me to explore new, unexplored arenas
The author's work is captivating, and the fact that it is grounded in the personal history of her family makes it more intriguing.
HOWEVER, the mispronunciation of Verdun (verified the French pronunciation is most definitely with a short letter u) was EXTREMELY distracting.
Less descriptive rubbish, or at least well-written descriptive filler rather than the non-evocative list making present here.
At times melodramatic
All the clumsy descriptions of smells.
Would have made an interesting shorter essay as a part of a compendium, cut out the heavy-handed descriptive passages that are not at all scene-setting, just padding like packing peanuts that get in the way and annoy. Just tell me the stuff about the epidemic! I don't need to know that the edition of "Field and Stream" at the time had a picture of a man and woman sitting in a field by a stream - seriously?! I wish someone else had come upon this interesting sleeping sickness, or perhaps if the author had stood up to a publisher who demanded a full length volume?
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