Found in 5 comments on Hacker News
ktr · 2020-03-11 · Original thread
For a fascinating, in-depth look at the Spanish flu of 1918 check out John Barry’s “The Great Influenza” [1]. The book was amazing and gives you a real sense of what one of the worst pandemics in history must have been like.

[1] The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

ttcbj · 2020-02-26 · Original thread
Over the last few weeks, we have acquired enough food/supplies to stay isolated at our house for about 2 months (a combination of bulk rice/beans/grains, and pre-purchasing anything we use regularly which has a long expiration date). We also have medicines/toiletries/etc to last that long.

Maybe 10-12 years ago I read the book 'The Great Influenza'[1], and there are enough similarities between that outbreak and this one that we are taking it fairly seriously.

Although that book isn't perfect, it has a lot of detailed and fascinating explanation on (a) the development of scientific medicine in Europe and then the US (b) the way flu works, is transmitted, etc (c) the way that specific pandemic played out.


Aloha · 2019-02-24 · Original thread
greenyoda · 2018-01-20 · Original thread
The most amazing thing I learned from this book is just how primitive medical practice and training were in the U.S. at the turn of the 20th Century: there were no requirements for doctors to have science education or clinical training. Many doctors had to go to Europe to get better educations. This started changing shortly before the big flu epidemic, and the people - doctors and philanthropists - who brought about the changes were also instrumental in the battle against the flu epidemic. The book is as much a biography of the key players as a history of the events.

Also, the book explains how huge numbers of deaths were caused by politicians and bureaucrats. The political machine in one city (Philadelphia, I think) refused to shut down a popular parade, as urged by the health authorities, to stop the spread of the flu. Lots of people needlessly got infected and died. The military packed excessive numbers of WWI recruits into camps designed for a fraction of the number of people, also against the advice of doctors; huge numbers of healthy young men caught the flu and died.

And the scientific detective story of how researchers tried to find a cure for the flu was very interesting, with ongoing controversy over what the infectious agent was (virus? bacteria?). We know the answer today, but it wasn't so clear back then.

It's a very good read on many levels.

Here's a link to the book on Amazon:

lsv1 · 2017-12-23 · Original thread
I read a great book which covers the Spanish Flu called The Great Influenza ( by John M. Barry.

The book does a great job of expressing the history of medicine leading up to the 1918 Spanish Flu.

But above all the book goes into detailed recollection on the arrogance of leadership in the face of this deadly disease. From politicians listing it as merely a regular flu, to military generals choosing not to quarantine troops... leading to massive casualties and the spread of the disease. All leading up to a realization of severity, when proper measures are taken.

I believe a newer print also has a note about Swine Flu, my copy is fairly old and does not include this.

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