The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History

Version: Unabridged
Author: John M. Barry
Narrator: Scott Brick
Genres: History
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
Published In: March 2006
# of Units: 16 CDs
Length: 19 hours, 30 minutes
Ratings:
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Overview

In the winter of 1918, at the height of World War I, history's most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision between modern science and epidemic disease. Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research, THE GREAT INFLUENZA weaves together multiple narratives, with characters ranging from William Welch, founder of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, to John D. Rockefeller and Woodrow Wilson. Ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy, this crisis provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon.

Reviews (11)

The Great Influenza

Written by She and She. from The Villages, FL on March 8th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Very good information helps make people aware how Dangerous the Flu could be.

Written by Carina Ward on January 17th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Great book. Super interesting. I was on the edge of my seat.

More than the Flu

Written by Anonymous on February 1st, 2011

  • Book Rating: 5/5

At first I was really wondering if this book had a point. Then, as it went on, it was clear that all the "extraneous" information was not only essential to really understanding what happened, but it was interesting. We really have not come all that far in medicine.

A well told historical account

Written by Anonymous from Oakland, CA on July 20th, 2010

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I'd read about the pandemic and heard my mother's stories about how her sister had died from influenza. But this book tells the story so well that it makes the influenza pandemic a real and tangible thing as if it happened in recent memory and may very well happen again in our lifetime. I wish more people would read this book. There would be less fear of vaccines and greater respect for public health & illness prevention.

The Great Influenza

Written by E. Weisz on July 21st, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Fascinating book. Although technical in many aspects, the book provided great insight into the history of medical practice in the 19th & 20th century and kept the tragic story of the epidemic as almost a mystery novel. highly recommend.+

You Gotta Listen To This!

Written by Sharon Bennett from Spring, TX on April 25th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This was a great book. Riveting to listen to. I sometimes stayed in the driveway to listen to the last 15 minutes or so of the CD. Great if you are interested in history, medicine, pandemics, public health service, or just want to understand more about the culture of science or WWI America. The book is fantastic to listen to and while long, is well worth the listen. I am half-way through the second set of CDs, and I am still awed.

The Flue

Written by DJG on August 21st, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I found this book to be very interesting and informative. Though it was long, it revealed a lot of detail that I found interesting in light of my desired to know history and this gave a very clear picture of Woodrow Wilson and WWI and how it helped the spread of the disease. The Flue only.

The Great Influenza

Written by Mark Mallah on August 17th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This is a harrowing, haunting, and tragic story powerfully told. The author provides deep characterizations of the major players, and broad context for medical progress leading up to this cataclysmic event. The narrator has a resonant voice, with the ability to animate the author's words as a fine actor animates dialogue. This book brought me to tears, and is unforgettable.

The Great Influenza...

Written by Barbara A. on August 13th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

The book takes you through an extended history of the medical profession which I wasn't ready for. It took until the 4th or 5th CD for them to get into the start of the disease. I guess the beginning explains the whys, but just don't expect to have the book jump right into things. There is alot of history told from many areas. It makes you wonder why they have gone where they have, but it comes back to the main story eventually. I am anxiously awaiting the next set of disks, so I haven't been deterred. It helps if you are interested in history.

The Great Influenza

Written by Shellee from Carson City, NV on March 4th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I'm not a medical person, so much of the verbage is hard to follow. I've listened to most CDs 2 times for greater understanding. Having said that, this book is so fascinating to me. I appreciate how Barry intertwined politics and medicine with stories of everyday people mixed in to remind the listener/reader that this was happening to ordinary people. And the implications for today are especially poignant. I'd recommend this for short, focused jaunts unless you are especially geared for medical history, as you can get bogged down in the verbage over the long haul. The narrator is fantastic and makes things easy to hear and understand through his vocalizations and intonations.

Author Details

Author Details

Barry, John M.

John M. Barry is the author of "The Ambition and the Power: A True Story of Washington, " and co-author of "The Transformed Cell, " which has been published in twelve languages. As Washington editor of Dunn's Review, he covered national politics, and he has also written for "The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Newsweek, The Washington Post, " and "Sports Illustrated." He lives in New Orleans and Washington, D.C.