- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Touchstone; 1 edition (January 9, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0743203984
- ISBN-13: 978-0743203982
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 192 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It 1st Edition
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Feeling tired, achy, and congested? You'll hope not after reading science writer Gina Kolata's engrossing Flu, a fascinating look at the 1918 epidemic that wiped out around 40 million people in less than a year and afflicted more than one of every four Americans. This tragedy, just on the heels of World War I and far more deadly, so traumatized the survivors that few would talk about it afterward. Kolata reports on the scientific investigation of this bizarre outbreak, in particular the attempts to sequence the virus' DNA from tissue samples of victims. She also looks at the social and personal effects of the disease, from improved public health awareness to the loss of productivity. (The disease affected 20- to 40-year-olds disproportionately.)
How could this disease, now almost trivial to healthy young people, have become so virulent? The answer is complex, invoking epidemiology, immunology, and even psychology, but Kolata cuts a swath through medical papers and statistical reports to tell a story of an out-of-control virus exploiting an exhausted world on the brink of transition into modern society. Through letters, interviews, and news reports, she pieces together a cautionary tale that captures the horror of a devastating illness. Research marches onward, but we're still at the mercy of something as simple as the flu. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
"It was a plague so deadly that if a similar virus were to strike today, it would kill more people in a single year than heart disease, cancers, strokes, chronic pulmonary disease, AIDS and Alzheimer's disease combined." Between 20 million and 100 million people worldwide died in the 1918 flu pandemic, but for years afterward this deadliest plague in history was almost completely forgotten. Histories and even medical texts rarely mentioned it. This disconnect between the flu's devastation and its obscurity is the starting point for Kolata's incisive history. She explains how the plague spread, covers the various speculations about its causes and origins and gives an account of the search to retrieve a specimen of the virus strain once genetic science had advanced enough to unravel the virus's mysteries. Tissue samplesAfrom an obese woman buried in the permafrost of Alaska and from two soldiers who died in army campsApreserved by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in thumb-sized bits of paraffin prove to be the last remaining sources of the 1918 strain. Kolata, a science writer for the New York Times and author of Clone, profiles the scientists who tracked down these samples, follows their investigations and explains their conclusions. Could such a deadly flu appear again? Many scientists fear it could, hence their quick response to the 1997 outbreak of chicken flu in Hong Kong, which led to the slaughter of 1.2 million birds and, Kolata argues, averted another worldwide disaster. Clearly explaining both the science and the social toll of the pandemic, Kolata writes an admirable history and soberly spells out how the U.S. government is preparedAor unpreparedAfor a similar public health threat today. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Eventually it was found in every nation in the world, even among still traditional tribal peoples, who had little or no contact with the "outside world".....entire villages of the Inuit (often called Eskimos) were wiped out.
This is relevant to us today because of the risk of Avian Flu, and others.....viruses DO make the mutation and the leap from an animal vector to humans......we've seen it in Ebola, in HIV, and many other viruses, but for a long time this was not recognized. Now, it is an accepted fact.
Excellent book, quick read, factual but not dry at all...I highly recommend it.
And there, suddenly, Kolata stops. It's like pulling the keys out of the ignition of a car that's plummeting across Interstate 80. Up to this point, the book is very interesting and I feet a little cheated out of the climax. That aside, I learned from this very readable book, especially how my own misconceptions about flu vaccinations (I have avoided them) were shaped by the political and media bumbling surrounding the 1976 swine flu epidemic. I also understand the science of virology better. Kolata is not one of the players but her prose transcends technical writing and conveys the thrill of the hunt.