We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
The Great Influenza Audiobook

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

Regular Price:$28.00
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Publisher's Summary

No disease the world has ever known even remotely resembles the great influenza epidemic of 1918. Presumed to have begun when sick farm animals infected soldiers in Kansas, spreading and mutating into a lethal strain as troops carried it to Europe, it exploded across the world with unequaled ferocity and speed. It killed more people in 20 weeks than AIDS has killed in 20 years; it killed more people in a year than the plagues of the Middle Ages killed in a century. Victims bled from the ears and nose, turned blue from lack of oxygen, suffered aches that felt like bones being broken, and died. In the United States, where bodies were stacked without coffins on trucks, nearly seven times as many people died of influenza as in the First World War.

In his powerful new book, award-winning historian John M. Barry unfolds a tale that is magisterial in its breadth and in the depth of its research, and spellbinding as he weaves multiple narrative strands together. In this first great collision between science and epidemic disease, even as society approached collapse, a handful of heroic researchers stepped forward, risking their lives to confront this strange disease. Titans like William Welch at the newly formed Johns Hopkins Medical School and colleagues at Rockefeller University and others from around the country revolutionized American science and public health, and their work in this crisis led to crucial discoveries that we are still using and learning from today.

Now with a new afterword.

©2004, 2005 John M. Barry; (P)2006 Penguin Audio, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., and Books on Tape. All Rights Reserved.

What the Critics Say

"Gripping....Easily our fullest, richest, most panoramic history of the subject." (The New York Times Book Review)

"An enthralling symphony of a book, whose every page compels." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1525 )
5 star
 (672)
4 star
 (484)
3 star
 (241)
2 star
 (85)
1 star
 (43)
Overall
4.2 (864 )
5 star
 (428)
4 star
 (253)
3 star
 (122)
2 star
 (41)
1 star
 (20)
Story
4.2 (855 )
5 star
 (437)
4 star
 (260)
3 star
 (102)
2 star
 (32)
1 star
 (24)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Tim E. Higgins 06-22-06 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "needed focus and editing"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean 04-06-06
    Sean 04-06-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    40
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Good, but exhausting"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura EVERETT, WA, United States 11-21-13
    Laura EVERETT, WA, United States 11-21-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    144
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    294
    45
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Slow to get to the good stuff"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel BRENHAM, TX, United States 10-24-13
    Rachel BRENHAM, TX, United States 10-24-13 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Narration and back stories killed any excitement.."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by John M. Barry again?

    Yes


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Way too dramatic and slow. It was like he was reading Shakespeare.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Great Influenza?

    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.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth Jericho, VT, United States 09-14-13
    Ruth Jericho, VT, United States 09-14-13 Member Since 2011

    ManyGoldens

    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    172
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Look out world"
    What did you love best about The Great Influenza?

    The realization of how easily this traveled


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    na


    Which character – as performed by Scott Brick – was your favorite?

    Just the story...


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Faster than you think...


    Any additional comments?

    Makes you think just how easily things can still be spread...

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 09-11-13
    David 09-11-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    68
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good story needing an editor"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Working momma OAKLAND, CA, United States 08-02-13
    Working momma OAKLAND, CA, United States 08-02-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Riveted the entire time"

    Truly one of my best reads in years. I found myself repeating sections of the book, just because they were that good.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Petaluma, CA, United States 03-23-13
    Jeffrey Petaluma, CA, United States 03-23-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    68
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "THIS BOOK MUST BE READ BY ALL!!!!!!!!!"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Greensboro, NC 03-16-13
    James Greensboro, NC 03-16-13 Member Since 2006

    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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    19
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An Excellent Read"
    What made the experience of listening to The Great Influenza the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Scott Brick’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    It was outstanding.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    Listen to his book. Well performed and extremely well researched and written.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dan 03-11-13
    dan 03-11-13 Member Since 2013

    dfoss

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Still relevant"
    What made the experience of listening to The Great Influenza the most enjoyable?

    I can do other things while I listen. Mostly I listen to books on long road trips.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    NA


    What about Scott Brick’s performance did you like?

    I liked the reader. He was quick, clear and read as if he were talking to me.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It scared me because there is a possibility of a pandemic even today and we would be faced with the same difficulties.


    Any additional comments?

    Everyone interested in medical science and its clinical applications should read this book to see how far we haven't come.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.