Book Review: The Great Influenza by John M. Barry

This book was recommended to me by my primary physician a couple of years ago. I had the title and author of the book written down on a future reading list. Last Christmas it was apart of a group of books I ordered for myself.

This is an in-depth look at the Great Influenza also known as the Spanish Flu, that was a pandemic during 1918-1919.
This book is also an in-depth look at medical schools, the education of physicians, medicine, and laboratory skills.
This book gives historical information about World War I, and more importantly how the Great Influenza directly and infamously influenced the negotiations and treaty after World War I.
I walked away, so to speak, from this book having attained much knowledge of this pandemic that killed at least 50 million, and by some counts as high as 100 million world wide.
Before reading this book I knew little about medical practices and the lack thereof of labs and research at the beginning of the 20th Century. That when World War I began lab research was in the beginning stages of development thanks to a hand full of physicians that saw this great need.
I learned information about the history of nurses, how they were looked down upon by medical doctors, because they were mis-informed about their valuable need. In some instances nurses were more educated and qualified than surgeons.
I learned about what censorship does during a pandemic and during a war. Those that censored believed that if they didn't release information about what was going on, it would keep the morale high, and also keep people from panicking.
I learned how the virus began, how it transformed itself or morphed, the symptoms, and the outcome.

Short biographies are given of those important men and women that played key roles in studying and solving the riddle of the Great Influenza. Their dedication and commitment are to be honored.

I loved this book! Just absolutely fascinating and hard to put down.
Much research went in to the writing of this book.
Red Cross Nurses

Walter Reed Hospital Flu Ward
Published in paperback 2005 by Penguin
560 pages
Non-Fiction/Influenza Pandemic 1918-1919/World War I/Medical Treatments in 19th and early 20th Century/Virology/Epidemiology

Link @ publisher:,,9780143036494,00.html?The_Great_Influenza_John_M._Barry#

Link @ Amazon:
Paperback $10.77
Kindle $13.99

This book is included in my list of The War Through The Generations Challenge 2012--World War I. 

Blissful Reading!


  1. You've convinced me that I *need* to read this one!

  2. This sounds fascinating. Wow. I've got this linked on the reviews page and a snippet of the review will appear on the main page on March. 14. Thanks for participating.

  3. Thank you Becky, Anna, and Serena for visiting and leaving comments--much appreciated!


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