Influenza

The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic
Narrated by: Holter Graham
Length: 6 hrs and 28 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (279 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

On the 100th anniversary of the devastating pandemic of 1918, Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the origins of the Great Flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure?

While influenza is now often thought of as a common and mild disease, it still kills over 30,000 people in the US each year. Dr. Jeremy Brown, currently director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, expounds on the flu's deadly past to solve the mysteries that could protect us from the next outbreak. In Influenza, he talks with leading epidemiologists, policy makers, and the researcher who first sequenced the genetic building blocks of the original 1918 virus to offer both a comprehensive history and a roadmap for understanding what’s to come.

Dr. Brown digs into the discovery and resurrection of the flu virus in the frozen victims of the 1918 epidemic, as well as the bizarre remedies that once treated the disease, such as whiskey and blood-letting. Influenza also breaks down the current dialogue surrounding the disease, explaining the controversy over vaccinations, antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, and the federal government’s role in preparing for pandemic outbreaks. Though 100 years of advancement in medical research and technology have passed since the 1918 disaster, Dr. Brown warns that many of the most vital questions about the flu virus continue to confound even the leading experts.

Influenza is an enlightening and unnerving look at a shapeshifting deadly virus that has been around long before people - and warns us that it may be many more years before we are able to conquer it for good. 

©2018 Dr. Jeremy Brown (P)2018 Simon & Schuster

Editor's Pick

So you think you know the flu…
"I’m getting married and heading off on my honeymoon in a little less than 2 weeks—so in other words, I’m overdosing on vitamin C, vigorously handwashing, and getting my flu shot. So it’s with sniffles and prevention on the brain that I picked up this interesting listen (I like to feed my paranoias, apparently). This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic, one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history. Author Dr. Jeremy Brown, in a casual and accessible style, traces the history of the disease from then to now, revealing—frighteningly enough—just how much we still don’t understand about this ever-changing virus that at best makes us feel miserable for a few days, and at worst kills or seriously incapacitates those it infects. Holter Graham’s delivery is upbeat and engaging, complementing the author’s approach towards making this unnerving topic digestible. Now, to my fellow editors: If you need me over the next week, I’ll be working from home, wearing my face mask and slathering on the hand sanitizer."
Sam D., Audible Editor

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Important read

A complex problem clearly explained with suggestions for further research and solutions. Surprisingly very entertaining.

13 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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So-so

The book starts off well enough, but goes off the rails as you get deeper into the book. The author rails against Tamiflu for a ridiculous period of time - and in the end the data is still mixed - so what was the point? Also the author says the 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic wasn't a big deal at all - yet when you do a simple search for the stats it says up to 1.4-billion people were infected and up to 575,000 were killed. The author never acknowledges the published stats and doesn't explain why they're supposedly wrong. Don't get me wrong, I think the WHO is corrupt and dishonest in many of its findings, but if you're writing a book, explain why you're so certain they are wrong and where you get your facts.

At times, when the book is telling a story, it's pretty good. But a lot of the book is just like reading a bunch of magazine articles put together. It's by no means all bad - it's just very mediocre, middle of the road, completely average.

The read was acceptable - didn't really have the right tone at times, but listen at 1.25x speed and he'll sound a lot better.

Oh, and a WOKE bonus, the author repeatedly calls doctors "she"... Why? Because the author is WOKE man. Actually the politics here aren't all that bad, but rather than say they, the author repeatedly says she as a doctor because, well, he's better than you.

5 people found this helpful

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Very Interesting and Informative

If you are here during the COVID19 pandemic seeking answers then you have come to the right place. No it doesn’t discuss the current pandemic but it does explain a lot of underlying issues and how these types of illnesses remain uncured and why they are so deadly.

3 people found this helpful

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Prophetic

Not every author gets to hear their prophecies fulfilled, but Dr. Brown certainly has. This is a great read to fill in the background on how we got to where we are in April 2020.

2 people found this helpful

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Very timely thing to read right now

As the 100th anniversary of the 1918 pandemic approached, this public health doctor researched the more general subject of pandemics and influenza, and his book frequently touches on the question of prediction of pandemics (versus the regular appearance of mutating flu viruses) and preparedness (or lack of need to do so) for a new pandemic. Well, we know how that turned out. A very interesting and timely thing to be reading right now.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent exploration of the topic from all angles

Excellent exploration of the topic from all angles, and useful reminders of how to think honestly about how science and government should interact.

2 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

Fairly poorly written, poorly thought out in places, repetitive and drags in long spots. Lots of interesting information, of course, but hardly worth the pain. Found myself skipping sections and, once or twice, actually yelling in frustration at the author’s poor reasoning.

3 people found this helpful

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great

great history on the flu, and the quest to find a workable treatment. I did this book in 1.5 days.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating

I bought this book in 2018 when it was published, but never got around to listening to it. Reading it now in light of our current pandemic is fascinating. So much of what he describes, the stockpiles, the effect on the economy, and the modeling, financial and otherwise, is almost exactly what is happening today. The one thing I think he got wrong was the capability of our politicians and governments to properly steer us through the crisis. Their competence was over estimated.

The book is well written and easy to listen to. The epilogue was very interesting. As the author is an emergency physician, his opinions are well worth th listen.

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Out of Date Don’t Bother

Read John Barry’s Book instead. This is simplistic and given our current pandemic the conclusions are laughable. Waste of time.