Pale Rider

Pale Rider

The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World

Downloadable Audiobook - 2017
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In 1918, the Italian-Americans of New York, the Yupik of Alaska, and the Persians of Mashed had almost nothing in common except for a virus-one that triggered the worst pandemic of modern times and had a decisive effect on the history of the twentieth century.

The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was one of the greatest human disasters of all time. It infected a third of the people on Earth-from the poorest immigrants of New York City to the king of Spain, Franz Kafka, Mahatma Gandhi, and Woodrow Wilson. But despite a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people, it exists in our memory as an afterthought to World War I.

In this gripping narrative history, Laura Spinney traces the overlooked pandemic to reveal how the virus travelled across the globe, exposing mankind's vulnerability and putting our ingenuity to the test. As socially significant as both world wars, the Spanish flu dramatically disrupted-and often permanently altered-global politics, race relations and family structures, while spurring innovation in medicine, religion, and the arts. It was partly responsible, Spinney argues, for pushing India to independence, South Africa to apartheid, and Switzerland to the brink of civil war. It also created the true "lost generation."

Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology, and economics, Pale Rider masterfully recounts the little-known catastrophe that forever changed humanity.

Publisher: Hachette Book Group


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Oct 31, 2020

Excellent accounting of the causes and effects, both short and long term, of this catastrophe. Fascinating as she traces how the virus spread (before the days of commercial air travel), recounts how various countries, cities, villages dealt with the issue, and how little human beings have changed, despite the 'advances' in science and technology. Published in 2017, this should be a must read for anyone and everyone who has any policy-making authority in our country. What's the saying about those who don't understand history being doomed to repeat it? She also includes some speculation about the longer term affects of the flu, questioning whether, for example, the Versailles Treaty that ended World War I might have turned out differently had Woodrow Wilson not come down with the flu during negotiations. Very well written and thought-provoking. Unlike the prior reviewer, I enjoyed the narrator and had no problem finishing the book. The only place it briefly bogged down for me was toward the middle when she explains the science of the virus. This might be fascinating for some, but left me wanting to move on to more of the history or sociology. Highly recommended.

Feb 02, 2018

The narrator is so awful for my hearing, I'll have to borrow the print or ebook. I'm pleased to see a newer writing on this fascinating subject that too few people bother to learn about. First, labeling this pandemic as 'spanish flu' is such a misnomer & persists even after 100 years. I highly recommend this book, the subject & a great pondering of the subject, even if you only read the first few chapters.


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