'Both a saga of tragedies and a detective story... Pale Rider is not just an excavation but a reimagining of the past' Guardian With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the twentieth century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I. In Pale Rider, Laura Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain, and from South Africa to Odessa. She shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered; and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test. Laura Spinney demonstrates that the Spanish flu was as significant – if not more so – as two world wars in shaping the modern world; in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.
Sheds new light on what the WHO described as "the single most devastating infectious disease outbreak ever recorded," focusing on social control, gender, class, religion, national identity, and military medicine's reactions to the pandemic.
By investigating thousands of descriptions of epidemics reaching back before the fifth-century-BCE Plague of Athens to the distrust and violence that erupted with Ebola in 2014, Epidemics challenges a dominant hypothesis in the study of epidemics, that invariably across time and space, epidemics provoked hatred, blaming of the 'other', and victimizing bearers of epidemic diseases, particularly when diseases were mysterious, without known cures or preventive measures, as with AIDS during the last two decades of the twentieth century. However, scholars and public intellectuals, especially post-AIDS, have missed a fundamental aspect of the history of epidemics. Instead of sparking hatred and blame, this study traces epidemics' socio-psychological consequences across time and discovers a radically different picture: that epidemic diseases have more often unified societies across class, race, ethnicity, and religion, spurring self-sacrifice and compassion.
*Includes pictures *Includes accounts of the pandemic from doctors and survivors *Includes a bibliography for further reading "One of the startling features of the pandemic was its sudden flaring up and its equally sudden decline, reminding one of a flame consuming highly combustible material, which died down as soon as the supply of the material was exhausted. There is every reason to believe that, within a few weeks of its onset, the infection was universally present in the nose and throat of the people, disseminated by mouth spray given off on talking by innumerable carriers and, in addition, by the coughing and sneezing of the sick. Susceptibility was very general, though it varied greatly in degree. Among those who escaped well marked sickness there are few who could not recall having had an occluded or running nose, or a raw feeling in the throat, or a cough, or aches and pains, at some time during the period of the prevalence of the disease, these probably representing the price such persons paid for their immunization." - Dr. Bernard Fantus In many ways, it is hard for modern people living in First World countries to conceive of a pandemic sweeping around the world and killing millions of people, and it is even harder to believe that something as common as influenza could cause such widespread illness and death. Although the flu still takes hundreds of lives each year, most of those lost are very young or old or ill with something else that had already weakened them. In fact, most people contract influenza at least once, and many suffer from the flu several times in their lives and survive it with a minimum amount of medical attention. In 1918, the world was still in the throes of the Great War, the deadliest conflict in human history at that point, but while World War I would be a catastrophic war surpassed only by World War II, an unprecedented influenza outbreak that same year inflicted casualties that would make both wars pale in comparison. An illness, or more likely a collection of illnesses, Spanish influenza quickly spread across the world and may have killed upwards of 100 million people, decimating populations across developed nations and possibly wiping out as much as 5% of the world's population. If anything, the ongoing war and the censorship maintained by the countries fighting it may have resulted in the actual toll of the outbreak being underestimated based on the way soldiers' deaths were categorized. World War I may have distracted people about the unprecedented nature of the outbreak, but the most alarming aspect of the outbreak in 1918 was the indiscriminate nature in which the scourge attacked young and old, healthy and unhealthy, and rich and poor alike. In fact, the popular name for the outbreak was a reference to the fact that Spain's own king was stricken with the disease. While he and President Woodrow Wilson ended up surviving it, former First Lady Rose Cleveland did not. The staggering number of fatalities, and the way in which seemingly anybody could suffer during the outbreak, taught people in the early 20th century that regardless of the tremendous strides made by technology, and no matter how stalemated the war was, nobody was safe from nature itself. Of course, it also demonstrated how much more work could be done to prevent similar occurrences. The 1918 pandemic was neither the first nor the last outbreak of the flu, but it was by far the worst, and it forever changed the face of medicine and public health care in both North America and Europe. The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic: The History and Legacy of the World's Deadliest Outbreak chronicles the devastating disease and the damage it wrought across the globe. Along with pictures and a bibliography, you will learn about the 1918 flu outbreak like never before, in no time at all.
This is the Powerful Historical Account of the Worst season of death in American history. Just as American troops were claiming victory in Europe during World War I, a silent killer spread across America and the world. Assumed by physicians to be a bacteria, the killer was in fact a culprit that medicine had not yet discovered: a virus. Unable to fight it, the whitecoated priests of modern medicine watched helplessly as the plague they called Spanish influenza exploded across the world. In America alone, some 25 million people fell ill and an estimated 675,000 died, all within a few tragic months. Influenza 1918 recounts the story of this crisis in our history. It tells of public officials who waffled and denied the danger, heroes who acted with forceful dedication, neighbors who closed their doors against neighbors, medical researchers whose pursuits led them deeper into the heart of the mystery, and countless volunteers who somehow kept the nation running.