Chicago Tribune; Monumental... powerfully intelligent... not just a masterful narrative... but also an authoritative and disturbing morality tale. The New York Times Book Review: Easily our fullest, richest, most panoramic history of the subject. Providence Observer: Hypnotizing, horrifying, energetic, lucid prose... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Jama: Barry can write-- and how!... compelling and brilliant. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Boston Globe: a sobering account of the 1918 flu epidemic, compelling and timely. San Diego Union-Tribune: ...spellbinding...The Great Influenza is a compelling and scary read. Booklist, Starred Review: An enthralling symphony of a book, whose every page compels. Arkansas Times: A medical thriller...It combines popular history and popular science in a way that reminds one of David McCullough. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. Baton Rouge Advocate: History brilliantly written... The Great Influenza is a masterpiece.
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . A Tremendous work ...
Posted January 21, 2010 by Guy , Madison, WOne of the best books in my experience of the past 20 years. Mr. Barry lays the foundation for the epidemic in a history of medicine and medical research at the turn of the 20th century -- a world very much removed from our present day -- in which the fields of micro-biology and virology were not yet invented nor the concept that a School of Medicine exists to train people with compenent skills to practice medicine. He populates the book with some of the most important people in the history of medicine and medical research, many of whom later became Nobel laureates. And he writes of them as human beings struggling with a catastrophy both personal and professional. And he writes of influenza - what it is, how it works, and what it does. A remarkable book at times thrilling and horrifying both for what was and what might be.
2 . the great influenza
Posted December 19, 2006 by bookworm , floridaI was pretty disappointed with this book. Very overly written. Author just basically repeats over and over again the same point. Also, the author actually writes in the style of some kind of tabloid journalism, with highlighted and italicized sentences. A lot of repeated words and exclamation points like THE HORROR OF IT ALL!!!!
October 02, 2005
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Excerpt from The Great Influenza by John M. Barry
The Great War had brought Paul Lewis into the navy in 1918 as a lieutenant commander, but he never seemed quite at ease when in his uniform. It never seemed to fit quite right, or to sit quite right, and he was often flustered and failed to respond properly when sailors saluted him.
Yet he was every bit a warrior, and he hunted death.
When he found it he confronted it, challenged it, tried to pin it in place like a lepidopterist pinning down a butterfly, so he could then dissect it piece by piece, analyze it, and find a way to confound it. He did so often enough that the risks he took became routine.
Still, death had never appeared to him as it did now, in mid- September 1918. Row after row of men confronted him in the hospital ward, many of them bloody and dying in some new and awful way.
He had been called here to solve a mystery that dumbfounded the clinicians. For Lewis was a scientist. Although a physician he had never practiced on a patient. Instead, a member of the very first generation of American medical scientists, he had spent his life in the laboratory. He had already built an extraordinary career, an international reputation, and he was still young enough to be seen as just coming into his prime.
A decade earlier, working with his mentor at the Rockefeller Institute in New York City, he had proved that a virus caused polio, a discovery still considered a landmark achievement in the history of virology. He had then developed a vaccine that protected monkeys from polio with nearly 100 percent effectiveness.
That and other successes had won him the position of founding head of the Henry Phipps Institute, a research institute associated with the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1917 he had been chosen for the great honor of giving the annual Harvey Lecture. It seemed only the first of many honors that would come his way. Today, the children of two prominent scientists who knew him then and who crossed paths with many Nobel laureates say their fathers each told them that Lewis was the smartest man they had ever met.
The clinicians now looked to him to explain the violent symptoms these sailors presented. The blood that covered so many of them did not come from wounds, at least not from steel or explosives that had torn away limbs. Most of the blood had come from nosebleeds. A few sailors had coughed the blood up. Others had bled from their ears. Some coughed so hard that autopsies would later show they had torn apart abdominal muscles and rib cartilage. And many of the men writhed in agony or delirium; nearly all those able to communicate complained of headache, as if someone were hammering a wedge into their skulls just behind the eyes, and body aches so intense they felt like bones breaking. A few were vomiting. Finally the skin of some of the sailors had turned unusual colors; some showed just a tinge of blue around their lips or fingertips, but a few looked so dark one could not tell easily if they were Caucasian or Negro. They looked almost black.