Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It

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9780374157067: Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It
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The fascinating, true story of the world's deadliest disease.

In 1918, the Great Flu Epidemic felled the young and healthy virtually overnight. An estimated forty million people died as the epidemic raged. Children were left orphaned and families were devastated. As many American soldiers were killed by the 1918 flu as were killed in battle during World War I. And no area of the globe was safe. Eskimos living in remote outposts in the frozen tundra were sickened and killed by the flu in such numbers that entire villages were wiped out.

Scientists have recently rediscovered shards of the flu virus frozen in Alaska and preserved in scraps of tissue in a government warehouse. Gina Kolata, an acclaimed reporter for The New York Times, unravels the mystery of this lethal virus with the high drama of a great adventure story. Delving into the history of the flu and previous epidemics, detailing the science and the latest understanding of this mortal disease, Kolata addresses the prospects for a great epidemic recurring, and, most important, what can be done to prevent it.

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Review:

Feeling tired, achy, and congested? You'll hope not after reading science writer Gina Kolata's engrossing Flu, a fascinating look at the 1918 epidemic that wiped out around 40 million people in less than a year and afflicted more than one of every four Americans. This tragedy, just on the heels of World War I and far more deadly, so traumatized the survivors that few would talk about it afterward. Kolata reports on the scientific investigation of this bizarre outbreak, in particular the attempts to sequence the virus' DNA from tissue samples of victims. She also looks at the social and personal effects of the disease, from improved public health awareness to the loss of productivity. (The disease affected 20- to 40-year-olds disproportionately.)

How could this disease, now almost trivial to healthy young people, have become so virulent? The answer is complex, invoking epidemiology, immunology, and even psychology, but Kolata cuts a swath through medical papers and statistical reports to tell a story of an out-of-control virus exploiting an exhausted world on the brink of transition into modern society. Through letters, interviews, and news reports, she pieces together a cautionary tale that captures the horror of a devastating illness. Research marches onward, but we're still at the mercy of something as simple as the flu. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:

Gina Kolata is a science reporter for The New York Times and the author of Clone: The Road to Dolly and Sex in America. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780743203982: Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It

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ISBN 10:  0743203984 ISBN 13:  9780743203982
Publisher: Touchstone, 2001
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9780783890197: Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It

G K Ha..., 2000
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9780756782771: Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 And the Search for the Virus That Caused It

Diane ..., 1999
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9780333751053: Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandmic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It

Farrar..., 2000
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9780330484237: Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pa

Pan Books, 2001
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