Looking for indepth reading about the Spanish Flu Epidemic
May 14, 2020 6:04 AM   Subscribe

I'm not necessarily looking for books - I just don't have that attention span right now - but definitely long, well written articles about various elements of the pandemic in 1918. Articles behind paywalls are fine. Thanks!
posted by tafetta, darling! to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Well, this is a book, but it's a must: Flu by Gina Kolata
posted by briank at 6:38 AM on May 14

This is also a book The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History by John M. Barry. Which you could skim. For example it starts with a history of medicine going all the way back. Hippocrates, Galen, et al. That section pays off in revealing how little was known about medicine and how the time of the influenza was incidentally the start of real knowledge of infection processes and microbes.

By the way, apropo the so-called "Wuhan Virus": the 1918 pandemic is called the Spanish flu because World War I had censored all the newspapers of the world. Spain was not in the war and so wrote fairly honestly about the flue. In retrospect, the first case they can now find appeared in an Army camp in the middle of the US!!!
posted by tmdonahue at 7:42 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]

How about a history from the viewpoint of someone who lived through it? Kind of a blog based on the diary of a young woman in South Dakota.
posted by XtineHutch at 8:37 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I think you could cherry-pick from the Great Influenza.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:07 AM on May 14

Yeah, the first third or so of "The Great Influenza" is really about the practice of medicine and the state of medical education in America and Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. There's probably a good 100 pages in there that is actually about how the epidemic played out.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 11:32 AM on May 14

Hey, XtineHutch, your link works, but when I click to read more on the page, I get a 404 error.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 12:38 PM on May 14

Pale Horse Pale Rider is a novella about the author katherine Anne Porter's experience suffering from the flu. It's a classic.
posted by Brittanie at 2:16 PM on May 14

I find the Philadelphia experience with influenza fascinating. The city refused to cancel their victory parade, and paid for it dearly. Since their experience was so dramatic there’s a lot of great journalism about it, so you’ll find a lot searching for ‘Philadelphia influenza’. Here are a couple of good articles to start with:


posted by bq at 7:49 PM on May 14

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