The stories of a few of these victims (and some survivors) are central to Ms. Arnold’s Pandemic 1918. She is good at looking at civilians as well as troops and their nurses and doctors and at teasing out the human side of the catastrophe ... Ms. Arnold, a British popular historian, uses... contemporary scientific activity to round out her account, but her center of gravity is the original pandemic, whose final toll can never be known. Her stories, many taken from previous historical works but also from newspaper accounts and archival material, make good reading. There are, however, a few signs of haste: She once relocates Fort Riley to Texas; the historian Alfred Crosby, author of a pioneering study of the pandemic, is once dubbed Albert; the British public health doctor J.A. Turner becomes 'Turned'; and quinine, often used in influenza cases in 1918, is confidently described as no longer being recommended then for treating malaria, though it certainly was. These and other slips mar her account but do not negate the powerful stories of ordinary people—children, brides, farmers, soldiers, nurses, doctors—that form the heart of her book.
In clear, engaging prose, Arnold takes readers through the horrifying familiar details again: the rapid spread of the disease as infected populations were shifted in the wake of the war, the vicious nature of the 'second wave' of the disease, when victims who’d felt perfectly healthy at breakfast could collapse on the street hours later and be dead by sundown, and the widespread social reactions, as ineffective protective face masks became chic fashion accessories and morbid ditties about the disease became best-selling songs. The strongest element of Pandemic 1918 is its virtually cinematic use of contemporary reactions to it all, from famous sources like Robert Graves or Vera Brittain to the unknown medical foot soldiers on the front lines of fighting the disease and helping the sick.
In Pandemic 1918, historian Catharine Arnold provides a detailed and chilling look at the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, explaining what has been learned in the 100 years since this deadly epidemic, which killed more than 50 million people ... Arnold gives firsthand accounts from those who witnessed and survived the Spanish flu’s deadly grip while examining its impact. By exploring family memories, journals and medical documents, she is able to focus on these personal stories that have been preserved and handed down over the years.
... absorbing ... One of the many virtues of Pandemic 1918 is that it ranges across the globe, so we get a useful picture of just how widespread the disease was. Arnold knows how to tell a good story and brings home the human dimension of the pandemic. But after a while, the stories all start to seem rather similar, and one begins to long for deeper analytical penetration. There’s no way of telling from this book, for example, which countries or cities combated the pandemic most effectively and why. This homogenizing approach makes it in some ways difficult to extrapolate lessons from 1918 for today. But lessons there surely are.
Drawing from a robust bibliography, historian Arnold presents a collection of essays that colorfully illustrate the everyday impact of the disease, drawing from personal narratives while also citing references in the medical literature as the outbreak was unfolding. Alternating perspectives are presented as each chapter highlights a distinct population as the disease spread in waves across continents ... An enjoyable read using easily understood terms. Recommended for public health professionals, historical medicine readers, world history buffs, and historical fiction fans.
The year 2018 marks the centennial of the influenza pandemic that killed millions of people around the world, and this well-timed volume from journalist and popular historian Arnold...introduces its scope and horror through the testimonies of a wide range of victims and witnesses ... The vivid narrative is framed by a discussion of research into the origins and behavior of the flu, along with the lessons it offers for responders in future epidemics.
Arnold’s grim compilation of accounts of the Spanish flu that killed upwards of 100 million people in 1918–19 vividly evokes the tragedy ... Arnold tracks the relentless march of the virus ... This well-researched and often overwhelming history serves as a stark warning of the threat of pandemic flu.
The first appearances were spotty; most patients recovered, and it vanished as quickly as it appeared. Not so the second wave in the summer, as the author amply shows, when it struck with a deadly virulence ... A wealth of stories of gruesome infection, lack of health care, and further transmission. A well-researched but ugly history that may fatigue readers by the end.