Friday, July 31, 2009

Book Review: Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic by Gina Kolata

Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic

The book was published in 1999, but it reads like it was written just a few weeks ago. The information Gina presents is so relevant to today that it's eerie. I am fascinated by the parts of history that our textbooks seem to forget, and the 1918 flu is probably one of the largest omissions in our historical texts. In it's two phases ( lighter spring outbreak, followed by the massively deadly fall outbreak) it managed to decrease the world population significantly and took out more lives than WW1 and WW2 combined. Utterly devastating and completely forgotten in popular culture. The book starts quickly diving right into historical narrative of the time. the first 5 or so chapters are fascinating, but start to drag a bit when the topic switches to the 1970's swine flu debacle. The book picks up again when the author starts telling the story of modern day scientists investigating the near century old virus. Gina does a great job in putting the potentially boring scientific details into a story that is both informative and entertaining. I highly recommend this book for any history buff, or even anyone interested gaining in depth perspective on what's happening with the H1N1 virus outbreak happening right now.

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