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Publisher's Summary

In 1918, the Italian-Americans of New York, the Yupik of Alaska, and the Persians of Mashed had almost nothing in common except for a virus - one that triggered the worst pandemic of modern times and had a decisive effect on the history of the 20th century.

The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was one of the greatest human disasters of all time. It infected a third of the people on Earth - from the poorest immigrants of New York City to the king of Spain, Franz Kafka, Mahatma Gandhi, and Woodrow Wilson. But despite a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people, it exists in our memory as an afterthought to World War I.

In this gripping narrative history, Laura Spinney traces the overlooked pandemic to reveal how the virus travelled across the globe, exposing mankind's vulnerability and putting our ingenuity to the test. As socially significant as both world wars, the Spanish flu dramatically disrupted - and often permanently altered - global politics, race relations, and family structures while spurring innovation in medicine, religion, and the arts. It was partly responsible, Spinney argues, for pushing India to independence, South Africa to apartheid, and Switzerland to the brink of civil war. It also created the true "lost generation". Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology, and economics, Pale Rider masterfully recounts the little-known catastrophe that forever changed humanity.

©2017 Laura Spinney (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Impressive.... Set against the devastating backdrop of global contagion, it is individual lives and deaths, discovered in letters, diaries, biographies and memoirs, that epitomize this rich account. Spinney invokes potent images.... Along with exemplary research, Spinney's narrative is packed with fascinating, quirky detail.... As the centenary of this monumental event approaches, other volumes on the pandemic will undoubtedly appear. Pale Rider sets the bar very high." (Nature)
"A vividly recreated, grimly fascinating book.... Coolly, crisply, and with a consistently sharp eye for the telling anecdote...Spinney demonstrates how Spanish flu cast a long, dark shadow over the 20th century." (The Daily Mail)

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Interesting story, but terrible narrator

The narrator couldn’t seem to be able to make up his mind as to whether he was British or American! Seemingly randomly, he would switch between broad American pronunciation and the clipped British way of speaking. Over the many hours it took to get through this book this became incredibly irritating. Makes you wonder who directs these productions! Too bad.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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extremely informative; must read

this book goes into the mechanics of a flu pandemic. I found it extremely informative and I feel like I understand the reality of flu. I like how the author ties the rise of the Trump family to the 1918 flu pandemic.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • 12-14-17

stick to the facts

This is an interesting subject, long overlooked. But this work would have been more trustworthy if the author had left out the evolution propaganda.

1 of 8 people found this review helpful