Pale rider The Spanish Flu of 1918 and how it changed the world

Laura Spinney

Book - 2017

"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 traveled 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"--Amazon.

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

614.518/Spinney
0 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 614.518/Spinney On Holdshelf
+1 Hold
Subjects
Published
New York : Public Affairs 2017.
Edition
First US Edition
Language
English
Physical Description
viii, 332 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical resources (pages 298-317) and index.
ISBN
9781610397674
1610397673
Main Author
Laura Spinney (author)
  • Introduction: The elephant in the room
  • part 1. The unwalled city: Coughs and sneezes ; The monads of Leibniz
  • part 2. Anatomy of a pandemic: Ripples on a pond ; Like a thief in the night
  • part 3. Manhu, or What is it?: Disease eleven ; The doctors' dilemma ; The wrath of God
  • part 4. The survival instinct: Chalking doors with crosses ; The placebo effect ; Good Samaritans
  • part 5. Post mortem: The hunt for patient zero ; Counting the dead
  • part 6. Science redeemed: Aenigmoplasma influenzae ; Beware the barnyard ; The human factor
  • part 7. The post-flu world: The green shoots of recovery ; Alternate histories ; Anti-science, science ; Healthcare for all? ; War and peace ; Melancholy muse
  • part 8. Roscoe's legacy
  • Afterword: On memory.
Review by Booklist Reviews

"The greatest massacre of the twentieth century." That's how science writer Spinney describes the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. One in three human beings around the globe was infected. From 1918 to 1920, the estimated number of deaths resulting from this illness ranges between 50 and 100 million people. WWI didn't initiate the Spanish flu, but war advanced its dissemination and virulence. And Spanish flu didn't even originate in Spain. The virus is spread in aerosolized droplets dispersed via sneezing and coughing. Spinney suggests, "Snot is a fairly effective missile." For most, the Spanish flu caused headache, sore throat, body aches, and fever. But for many millions, the infection produced spontaneous bleeding from the mouth and throat, blackened hands and feet, hair and teeth falling out, and death. Spinney's detailed discussion includes the why and how, the human devastation, and the effects on institutions and world affairs. Now nearly 100 years removed from the 1918 Spanish flu, Spinney wonders what lessons it has imparted that might help us prepare for and deal with the next, inevitable influenza pandemic. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

An epidemic, wrote historian Charles Rosenberg, unfolds as a pageant. The 1918–20 influenza pandemic was an array of pageants, great and small, rolling across humanity. This "greatest massacre of the twentieth century," which caused perhaps 100 million deaths, was a visitation played out in myriad social, religious, political, and ethnic contexts, seemingly capricious and cruelly lethal to young adults. Its public and private trajectories were obscured and fueled by the dislocations of global conflict. Spinney, a journalist, skillfully organizes vast source material, moving seamlessly between the global and the local. She examines the impotence of mainstream medicine (armed with an ineffective vaccine), the grace and courage of missionaries and humanitarians, the often blundering efforts of overwhelmed public officials, and the self-serving dictates of armies and imperialists. Speculation about an alternate post-epidemic 20th-century generational human history, a glimpse into the mysterious post-influenza encephalitis lethargica, and accounts of the nascent field of virology are of particular interest. The book closes with a note on the modern science of trans-species influenza and alarms for the future. A bibliography, in addition to the existing chapter notes, would have enhanced the book's usefulness. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduates and general readers.--S. W. Moss, independent scholarSandra W. Mossindependent scholar Sandra W. Moss Choice Reviews 55:11 July 2018 Copyright 2018 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Beginning in 1918, what became known as the Spanish Flu, which killed millions of people, would eventually encircle the globe in two more waves until it petered out in mid-1919. While the first and third waves are mere footnotes in cultural memory, the highly lethal second wave in fall 1918 is remembered most yet still overshadowed by World War I. Journalist Spinney brings the pandemic to the forefront of historical events to illustrate that, of the two important contemporary dramas, the Spanish Flu affected more people, had greater reach, and a significant influence on subsequent events. Spinney does not present her book as narrative, instead seeking to synthesize existing research and present it in a loose thematic arch. This format reveals that the understanding of the pandemic is changing owing to a recent surge in popularity across multiple disciplines. Once viewed exclusively through the lens of World War I and former colonial powers, the catastrophe is now investigated via new studies from such countries as Brazil and China and such disciplines as economics and sociology, are informing present research and reshaping what is known about the event. VERDICT An insightful and valuable account for all history collections.—Laura Hiatt, Fort Collins, CO Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The deadliest event of 1918 was not the continued fighting of WWI but the Spanish flu, which affected one third of the world's population, killing over 10% of its victims. This is no longer a controversial assessment, notes science journalist Spinney (Rue Centrale) in an often disturbing account that begins in prehistory and continues to the 21st century. It is now generally accepted that the first case of Spanish flu occurred in an American military camp in March 1918. By May Spanish flu had spread worldwide. Symptoms (including fever, headache, cough, and body aches) were miserable but rarely fatal, and the number of cases declined over the summer. But it returned in autumn, far worse and deadlier. Unlike ordinary influenza, this variant tended to kill young adults, sparing children and the elderly. Spinney's book contains vivid journalistic accounts of outbreaks around the world, from the U.S. to China, India, and Persia. Medical science helped only modestly, as political considerations (including wartime censorship), tradition, and racism all trumped safeguards, as when authorities in several countries stopped the publication of details on the epidemic's spread. Readers may squirm during Spinney's long final section—an insightful description of the subsequent century, during which researchers have teased out the Spanish flu's cause, developed a marginally effective vaccine, and worked to ameliorate future influenza epidemics, which are inevitable. (Sept.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Describes the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 and uses the latest findings in virology, epidemiology, and economics to show how the pandemic permanently changed global politics, race relations, medicine, religion, and the arts.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Describes the enormous-scale human disaster caused by the 1918 Spanish Flu and uses the latest findings in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology and economics to show how the pandemic permanently changed global politics, race relations, medicine, religion and the arts. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

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 twentieth 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.