Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World

By Laura Spinney
Read by Paul Hodgson

10.08 Hours 09/12/2017 unabridged
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    ISBN: 9781478992042

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.

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Summary

Summary

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.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

Pale Rider contains vivid journalistic accounts of outbreaks around the world, from the US to China, India, and Persia…Insightful.” Publishers Weekly
“This riveting study plots the course of the deadliest pandemic in history.” Sunday Times (London)
“A compelling, expert account of a half-forgotten historical catastrophe.” Kirkus Reviews
“Influenza, like all viruses, is a parasite. Laura Spinney traces its long shadow over human history…Ms. Spinney ties the virulence of Spanish flu to its genetic irregularities and does a good job of explaining containment strategies through epidemiology…In Europe and North America the first world war killed more than Spanish flu; everywhere else the reverse is true. Yet most narratives focus on the West…Ms. Spinney’s book goes some way to redress the balance.” Economist

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Laura Spinney

Laura Spinney is a science journalist and a literary novelist. She has published two novels in English, and her writing on science has appeared in National Geographic, Nature, the Economist, and the London Telegraph, among others. Her oral history portrait of a European city, Rue Centrale, was published in 2013 in French and English.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, CD
Category: Nonfiction/History
Runtime: 10.08
Audience: Adult
Language: English