Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Great Influenza by John M. Barry ****

I'm not much of a non-fiction gal, as I've mentioned before. But after a slow start, this book really kept my interest. It's about the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918-19, the deadliest plague in history. I had some personal interest in it as well, since my Grandma Bradley's younger brother, Peter, died of it when he was 8 years old.

Though it doesn't mention the epidemic in St. Louis really at all, it really blows your mind as to how pervasive & horrible this sickness was. It reached an ability to kill that could knock somebody out in 24 short hours. Imagine--getting the flu & being dead the next day.

Much of the book deals with the advances in American medical science in the time period leading up to the Spanish flu. I had a hard time wading through these parts of the book, but I understood why it was focused on--the US went from practising medieval bleeding & purging to modern med science in just a few short years. It's insane how ignorant the typical American doctor was before this time! I totally understand why someone back in the late 1800's would rather just keel over dead that call the doctor--3 pints of blood & some violent laxatives later, you'd be dead anyway!

All in all, a good read.

No comments: