"The Great Influenza" Excellent non-fiction
Search forum by title and author: negative
The Great Influenza: The story of the deadliest pandemic in history
by~ John M. Barry
I got this book for my Ipod and can't stop listening. Very well written and simplistic explanation of how bird flu works.
One chapter explained the frightening phenomenon, why flu outbreaks start off as mild and become lethal later. I have never heard this before, but it seems that as the virus passes from person to person the virus adapts itself to us so that it can become a more efficient killer.
The first quarter of the book explains the state of American medicine at the turn of the 20th century. Ever wonder why Granny Clampett called herself a doctor? She likely had the typical level of training for the time.
The second quarter introduces the preparations taken before the war to ready for disease out break commonly expected in times of war. Cholera, measles, meningitis. Train cars were converted to Mobile laboratories, medications stockpiled, and over sized hospitals built. All these preps collapsed under the weight of this unexpected old enemy.
For those of the preparation mindset. This is a good read. If you can compare the packing of troops into ramshackle barracks, to todays apartment buildings, and inner cities. If you can compare the speed of transporting two million Doughboys around the globe in 1918 to the number of people who fly, today. Perhaps you can imagine today's medical "system" failing under a catastrophe such as bird flu. Then maybe you can see yourself someday in a situation where you have to survive under 1918 America conditions. This book can help with your plan.
From Publishers Weekly
In 1918, a plague swept across the world virtually without warning, killing healthy young adults as well as vulnerable infants and the elderly. Hospitals and morgues were quickly overwhelmed; in Philadelphia, 4,597 people died in one week alone and bodies piled up on the streets to be carted off to mass graves. But this was not the dreaded Black Death-it was "only influenza." In this sweeping history, Barry (Rising Tide) explores how the deadly confluence of biology (a swiftly mutating flu virus that can pass between animals and humans) and politics (President Wilson's all-out war effort in WWI) created conditions in which the virus thrived, killing more than 50 million worldwide and perhaps as many as 100 million in just a year. Overcrowded military camps and wide-ranging troop deployments allowed the highly contagious flu to spread quickly; transport ships became "floating caskets." Yet the U.S. government refused to shift priorities away from the war and, in effect, ignored the crisis. Shortages of doctors and nurses hurt military and civilian populations alike, and the ineptitude of public health officials exacerbated the death toll. In Philadelphia, the hardest-hit municipality in the U.S., "the entire city government had done nothing" to either contain the disease or assist afflicted families. Instead, official lies and misinformation, Barry argues, created a climate of "fear... [that] threatened to break the society apart." Barry captures the sense of panic and despair that overwhelmed stricken communities and hits hard at those who failed to use their power to protect the public good. He also describes the work of the dedicated researchers who rushed to find the cause of the disease and create vaccines. Flu shots are widely available today because of their heroic efforts, yet we remain vulnerable to a virus that can mutate to a deadly strain without warning. Society's ability to survive another devastating flu pandemic, Barry argues, is as much a political question as a medical one.
THE BIG FLU: it's pert near forgotten or unknown to most.
eta: The part of the story involving a soldier at Fort Dix, New Jersey - President Ford - and all American citizens in the 70's is really interesting. I was vaccinated then with the *air injector*...I must be immune to the modern Swine Flu - ha!
There is another good book about this chapter in history simply entitled Flu.