America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition
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"[This] is a definitive account of the 1918 influenza epidemic in the United States. Alfred Crosby has systematically covered the effect of influenza upon the armed forces, major cities, and American territories. Over and above this he has depicted the spread and impact of the disease over a good part of the world." Journal of the History of Medicine
"[This] is a fine, galloping account of the influenza pandemic that killed some 25 million people in less than a year. In some ways it was a page out of the Middle Ages bound in the twentieth century. No plague ever killed so many people in so short a time." Natural History
"Thoroughly researched and rich in detail, Crosby's book carefully narrates the rise and fall of the global pandemic, especially as it affected the United States." Medical History
"...fascinating..." New York Sun --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B00E3UR4EI
- Publisher : Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (July 21, 2003)
- Publication date : July 21, 2003
- Language : English
- File size : 2755 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 329 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #145,939 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Crosby explains the story of how confused biologists were about the cause of influenza up until the early 1930s and how the puzzle was solved.
At the time of this writing we are waiting to see if the Coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan China will go global and whether it will kill millions of people or will it even kill tens of millions like the 1918 flu pandemic. I wish more people appreciated the potential scale of the death toll that is possible from a virus that has recently jumped a species boundary into humans. We are not doing enough to protect ourselves from a threat of this type and I expect we will have to learn the hard way that we need to.
Crosby wrote before the isolation and sequencing of the H1N1 virus from buried victims frozen in Alaska permafrost and he makes no mention of the cytokine storm which this virus caused, damaging the body by immune and inflammation response. So you need to read a later book to get a deeper understanding of how this particular virus caused so much damage. But as a story about the events of the pandemic it is quite good.
The 1918 flu pandemic is the only serious pandemic in anything like “modern” times, and despite their being roughly a hundred years apart and caused by different viruses (the COVID-19 is not part of the flu virus family), the two pandemics and their effects are eerily similar in several ways: the illnesses are both respiratory, both spread in similar ways, and both kill primarily by the same mechanism, almost surely an overreaction of the body’s immune system rather than a direct effect of the virus (though this was not known in 1918). Then, as now, there was no dependable treatment or vaccine, and people tried to slow the disease’s spread by wearing masks and closing down businesses. The differences between the two and their social surroundings are striking and instructive, too: we have the advantage of not being in the middle of a war (the 1918 pandemic overlapped the final battles and peacemaking process ending World War I), but, because the 1918 epidemic came and went so quickly (the whole thing lasted about a year, and the worst of it lasted less than a month), it had far less economic impact than the COVID-19 epidemic seems likely to have.
Crosby’s book shows how the disease started and spread among the military, as soldiers were crowded together and moved around the world as part of the war effort, and also how it affected American civilians and how they reacted to it. He concentrates on the effects in large cities, particularly Philadelphia and San Francisco. In addition, he discusses how the epidemic affected the peacemaking process at the end of the war, the search for the cause of the disease (long assumed to be a bacterium called Pfeiffer’s bacillus, because almost nothing was known about viruses at the time), and why the pandemic had so little impact on collective memory, even for most of the people who lived through it. The book is not overly technical, and its subject matter is bound to be gripping for anyone living in the present medical and social climate. I recommend both Crosby’s and Spinney’s books highly.