APRIL READ - The Great Influenza
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Reminder! I near forgot! Bad Morphy! I'll scoot over to the library to order a copy.
There won't be a spoiler thread for this one since it's nonfiction.
I had the first touch of flu in years about a month ago. Nevertheless, I'd expect to see more sniffles between about June and August, the depths of winter here (a statement that would be more credible on the Highveld than in Durban, where our miserably cold is about 10 degrees (C) warmer that Tris's midsummer). Which reminds me: the worst bit of my first visit to USA was that the Prof insisted that before I left Cape Town I HAD to have a flu shot. Being a very green M student I listened, and in consequence travelled from winter to summer with an apparently unshakeable-off case of the sniffles. But at least I got to see a corner of Clam's home state for a day or 2!
Introduction to the U.S.and A. was at a friend's in-laws on the fabled Isle of Long ;-) Also NYC (of course), Adirondacks, Bennington VT, Williamstown MA and Danbury CT -- all well worth seeing!
#13 - My father lost his very young sister during the epidemic. He was 2 at the time. He's no longer living or I would pump him for information about the time. Though apparently not too many survivors would discuss the event willingly.
She said that since it was spread by soldiers returning home from WWl, people were told it was disrespectful to the returning soldiers and unpatriotic to discuss it. The feeling was that if it was discussed, returning soldiers would be shunned at a time they needed to be treated like heroes. The epidemic and the resulting deaths were not reported in area newspapers. Except for the increased number of obitituaries, a newspaper reader would never have known something was ocurring. She did her research through public health death records.
And even when the technology was there, it was often too expensive for most people to afford. Two of my grandfather's brothers died of Diphtheria within hours of each other in late 1916, because their sharecropper parents couldn't afford the city doctor and his "real" medicine. This was over twenty years after the anti-toxin's discovery.
I'm hoping that with the onset of the Influenza crisis in the narrative, this tone will diminish a little.
ETA: This does seem to be the case.
I've got this sitting here ready to be started, but haven't yet been able to start it. I may not get to it until after the first of the month.
It seems the early signs of the disease have finally appeared. And my lawn seems to be starting to grow as well.
Plus, it was really just about the flu in the United States - any mention of the rest of the world was brief and sketchy.
I enjoyed a lot of the book, and I'm glad I read it, but I won't be keeping it. I already own Flu by Gina Kolata and America's Forgotten Pandemic by Alfred W. Crosby, which both do a better job of telling the story, and do more follow-up. I would really like to find a book that gives a more international perspective on the pandemic.
Another 100 pages mowed, and there seems to be something going on. Not evidently a lethal pandemic, but something to get the attention. It can't be long now, he murmurs hopefully.
Like the author, I too have a fascination with the history of medicine and the scientific process. In the end, I enjoyed this more than I would have without the stuff I did not set out to read about!
#42 - I am glad you ended up satisfied, stellar. :o)
>44 stellarexplorer:, Yes, the fact that everyone was traumatized and hushed up about the pandemic certainly hurt things. I found a copy of Pale Horse, Pale Rider at the library where I work and am looking forward to reading it, since Barry mentions it's one of the few accounts of the pandemic fictional or otherwise written by people who experienced it. It should be interesting.
He's been gone 18 years now, so I can't pump him for more information.
I definitely think that reading The Great Influenza first helped me appreciate it more than I would have otherwise though.
It was ugly, in so many ways. The vicious union strikes and battles, the government actions that squelched criticism, the Four Minute Men. Not a pretty memory.
First, the first third of the book was mostly about the history of medicine in America. Second, this book was almost too dry to read. Not quite enough to be unreadable, but not as easy as my usual pop science books. Lastly, I feel like everything was left unresolved. The author would build up the suspense, and then just drop everything. He'd set you up to think a doctor was about to find something or help was on the way. Then drop it and go to another doctor or another subject. Over and over. There never was a climax. It was very annoying. Not recommended.
5 out of 10 stars