7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A couple years ago, you couldn't turn on a newscast without getting a story about how avian flu was about to break out into a global pandemic. As with most news stories, the hype eventually wore down and media moved on to other hot topics. But the reality remains that a pandemic flu outbreak is something that could realistically happen with little to no warning. Craig DiLouie takes a fictional "after the fact" look at the effects of a pandemic in his book The Thin White Line: A History of the 2012 Avian Flu Pandemic in Canada. It's written as a documentary that looks at an avian flu pandemic that hit the world in 2012. Specifically, he looks at the history of the outbreak from where it started in China, how it got into Canada, and how it decimated the country for a ten week period.
In this fictional story, a restaurant worker in Guangdong province in China comes down with a case of the flu. Although the hospital there tries to treat him for flu and pneumonia, he quickly dies of this new illness. More cases start coming in, and as in the past China refuses to publically acknowledge that anything is amiss. This denial unfortunately allows others, especially non-Chinese, to come in contact with the infection and transport it home to their own countries. Two business travelers come home from a trip to Guangdong province. By this time, the world suspects that something major is going on, but there are few hard facts. Canadian border guards are able to detain and quarantine one of the men as he's going through customs. The other person is not showing symptoms and passes through. From this single mistake, the avian flu pandemic starts to spread like wildfire throughout the country (and the world in general). Hospitals are quickly overwhelmed with the crush of patients and the loss of their own staff. Essential services start to shut down as people are ordered to stay away from public gatherings. As basic commodities start to run short, the black market becomes a thriving business. Canada brings in their troops to enforce law and guard supply deliveries, but even then they're a target for attacks. After the first phase of the pandemic runs its course, things slowly start to come back online for Canada, but the world will never quite be the same. Its neighbor to the south, the United States, is a mere shell of itself after declaring martial law and having its economy collapse without having access to world funds to finance their debt.
For the most part, I found this smallish book an interesting read. It's one thing to be told by the media and officials that millions will die. It's another thing to read the "actual" story of how it happened and what effects it had on daily life. It was very obvious that we (the public) trust our lives to a relative minority of people who are willing to risk their own lives to care for us (doctors, nurses, law enforcement, etc.) It was also sobering to see how something like a flu outbreak could have such far-reaching consequences to the economy. Were something like that to happen now with our current economic credit crisis, I'm not sure we'd have anything left to go back to. The book is a bit dry and repetitive in places, but I attribute that to the "documentary" style of the writing. If this had been written as a novel, I'm sure the color and emotions would have been even stronger.
If you happen to come across this book at your library or bookstore, it's worth looking at. It won't necessarily prevent you from being a victim during the next pandemic (that *will* come someday), but it might start you thinking in terms of what you can do to be prepared for the disruption of life that will occur.