Three Great Books about the 1918 Spanish Flu Outbreak

Learning from what worked and what didn’t throughout America’s medical history.

The Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918
The Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918 was one of the greatest losses of human life in recorded history.National Museum of Health and Medicine

It’s a truism that society condemns itself to repeating the history it ignores, including the mistakes. The 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak was global in impact, crossing social and political boundaries as if they didn’t exist. These three critically acclaimed authors each take a different focus in examining the Spanish Flu experience.

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
This book illustrates how critical the government’s response is to the spread or containment of a widely contagious threat to health.John M. Barry

A fundamental question with any outbreak of a communicable disease, is how did it all begin? While there are a number of theories on the Spanish Flu’s origin it was clearly linked to conditions related to the first World War. The combination of an easily mutating virus, the relatively primitive status of medical research and the political conditions of the time have some remarkable parallels with, and lessons for today.

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World
This book is a social history of the worldwide 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak.Laura Spinney

The Spanish Flu had a far greater impact on the disadvantaged around the world. This disproportionate outcome helped cause many of the social and cultural changes experienced in the first half of the 20th Century.

Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It
This is a well-researched story of the Spanish Flu virus and its lasting impact on the word as we know it.Gina Kolata

Written by the senior medical writer for the New York Times, this book tells the story of how researchers chased clues in trying to isolate, identify and combat the flu virus strain causing the Spanish Flu.

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