STARRED REVIEW
August 28, 2018

The invisible enemy at home

By Catharine Arnold

We are living in a world of technological marvels, with each decade bringing increased numbers of medical breakthroughs. However, one disease that has been very tough for scientists to track and understand is the ever-mutating influenza virus. In Pandemic 1918, historian Catharine Arnold provides a detailed and chilling look at the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, explaining what has been learned in the 100 years since this deadly epidemic, which killed more than 50 million people.

Share this Article:

We are living in a world of technological marvels, with each decade bringing increased numbers of medical breakthroughs. However, one disease that has been very tough for scientists to track and understand is the ever-mutating influenza virus. In Pandemic 1918, historian Catharine Arnold provides a detailed and chilling look at the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, explaining what has been learned in the 100 years since this deadly epidemic, which killed more than 50 million people.

Arnold gives firsthand accounts from those who witnessed and survived the Spanish flu’s deadly grip while examining its impact. By exploring family memories, journals and medical documents, she is able to focus on these personal stories that have been preserved and handed down over the years.

One of the most terrifying aspects of the Spanish flu was that it often struck the healthiest rather than the elderly, young or weak. Victims included farm boys who were going off to fight in World War I. Arnold notes, “By the end of the war, more Americans died from Spanish flu than perished in the war.” The war also aided the flu’s spread, with soldiers coming from around the globe to fight. As described by one health officer at the time, Spanish flu “came like a thief in the night, its onset rapid, and insidious.”

Arnold also provides a touchstone to more recent flu epidemics, such as the Hong Kong bird flu in the late 1990s. She explains how scientists have been able to exhume and examine tissue samples from those who succumbed to Spanish flu to learn more about its causes and the virus’s ability to jump from animals to humans. As she cautions, “The threat of pandemic flu is as severe as that of a terrorist attack.”

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Pandemic 1918

Pandemic 1918

By Catharine Arnold
St. Martin's
ISBN 9781250139436

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!