Customer Reviews for

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

Average Rating 4
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(27)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(7)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Remember the Bugs in War of the Worlds

Talk about relevant books for our time. This one is most current and very topical. Of course the interesting thing about influenza outbreaks is how much terror they create in people along with the unfortunate death and disablement that the pandemics leave in their wake....
Talk about relevant books for our time. This one is most current and very topical. Of course the interesting thing about influenza outbreaks is how much terror they create in people along with the unfortunate death and disablement that the pandemics leave in their wake. This well-researched work by author Barry provides an interesting and informative journey through the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 1918 and 1919. Gee, that is the same virus that is suspected in the current "swine flu" outbreak. This author plods along from the beginning of the 1918 outbreak, with its suspected origination in the midWest (USA). All the medical researchers and many government health leaders are briefly profiled along with clear explanations of the virus and its workings, even us laymen readers can understand. Most shocking in this story is the all-consuming effort by the US government to gear the country up for fighting the Germans in World War I. Censorship, stupidity, hate, ignorance and numerous other factors play into the nation led by President Wilson that made this outbreak much more devastating than it should have been allowed to become. It is estimated that almost 50 Million people around the world succumbed to the virus. One is shocked by the medical and political behaviors that the author presents. This is must reading for a proper understanding of how virus and man live together and have lived together for probably thousands of years. Finally, I must comment on the important fact as to why this flu (and the current one) proved so fatal to young people (usually aged 19 to 35 years, their prime years). Do not be shocked to learn that it is our own body's strong immune systems (strongest in that age group) that in its fight against the H1N1 virus literally tore the person's internal body parts apart resulting in the high mortality rate. The virus killed by causing a massive immune reaction. I found this to be the most tantalizing bit of information presented in this tome. That and the fact that fear of flu pandemic is what we have to look forward to in the next attack. Maybe in the spring? Good luck.

posted by Tennesseedog on November 29, 2009

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

There were parts that were very interesting such as the discriptions of the diseases, however the rest of the book only talked about people who were in some way affiliated with the discovery of a vaccination for influenza. The accounts of these people were completely ir...
There were parts that were very interesting such as the discriptions of the diseases, however the rest of the book only talked about people who were in some way affiliated with the discovery of a vaccination for influenza. The accounts of these people were completely irrelevent to the subject matter, going into minute details such as their marital status, their eating habits, and their overall happiness. Thus had these irrelevant parts been expunged, the book would have been half as long and twice as interesting.

posted by Anonymous on March 29, 2007

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 51 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 3
  • Posted November 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Remember the Bugs in War of the Worlds

    Talk about relevant books for our time. This one is most current and very topical. Of course the interesting thing about influenza outbreaks is how much terror they create in people along with the unfortunate death and disablement that the pandemics leave in their wake. This well-researched work by author Barry provides an interesting and informative journey through the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 1918 and 1919. Gee, that is the same virus that is suspected in the current "swine flu" outbreak. This author plods along from the beginning of the 1918 outbreak, with its suspected origination in the midWest (USA). All the medical researchers and many government health leaders are briefly profiled along with clear explanations of the virus and its workings, even us laymen readers can understand. Most shocking in this story is the all-consuming effort by the US government to gear the country up for fighting the Germans in World War I. Censorship, stupidity, hate, ignorance and numerous other factors play into the nation led by President Wilson that made this outbreak much more devastating than it should have been allowed to become. It is estimated that almost 50 Million people around the world succumbed to the virus. One is shocked by the medical and political behaviors that the author presents. This is must reading for a proper understanding of how virus and man live together and have lived together for probably thousands of years. Finally, I must comment on the important fact as to why this flu (and the current one) proved so fatal to young people (usually aged 19 to 35 years, their prime years). Do not be shocked to learn that it is our own body's strong immune systems (strongest in that age group) that in its fight against the H1N1 virus literally tore the person's internal body parts apart resulting in the high mortality rate. The virus killed by causing a massive immune reaction. I found this to be the most tantalizing bit of information presented in this tome. That and the fact that fear of flu pandemic is what we have to look forward to in the next attack. Maybe in the spring? Good luck.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 27, 2010

    The best historical book I've ever read!

    For every fiction novel I read, I read at least three historical books. Unlike so many others, this book doesn't focus on war, politics, or corruption, it focuses on a sickness and the devastation it caused. From the history of medical science in America to the details of the death and sorrow of millions around the world, this book covers it all in great detail. I've read and re-read parts, simply because it's fascinating!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 12, 2009

    Good book!

    I enjoyed the book - at times it was a little more technical than I would want, but if you get past that, it's an excellent read. Timely since the swine flu outbreak. Amazing what medical staff and media can do during an outbreak to downplay something so serious. So many people died during this influenza, that didn't need to die. I really liked the book overall, and would recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2007

    truly extraordinary

    I picked this book up looking for -- strangely enough-- something quick and easy. Instead I found what I regard as a brilliant book with a compelling narrative. It takes on a complex and all-too-relevant subject-- what with threats from both bioterrorism and pandemic influenza-- and addresses it in a way that not only makes the science about infectious disease and immunology clear, but somehow manages to do so in page-turner fashion. Its insights and analysis go well beyond the 1918 pandemic itself. They get deep into how you do science, and how politics and the media, and society for that matter, function under enormous pressure. I am frankly puzzled by some other reviewers' comments that they can't follow the personalities. I found them fascinating, and a valuable addition that really helped me understand what was going on. A great book. Now onto Barry's other books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2007

    Very Intersting

    I've enjoyed this book and found it very interesting. Before reading this book I don't recall ever hearing of the influenza pandemic of 1918, and I had no idea of it's severity. I think everyone would benefit from a read, since this is a subject with application for modern times and the future. Coming from someone in the medical field, prior medical knowledge may be helpful in reading this book, but unlike others, I do not feel that a medical background is a prerequisite. Barry does a great job of describing immunology and clinical symptoms in terms that the general public would find easy to understand, so do not be intimidated. The only recommendation I have would be to skip Part I 'the first five chapters' 'The Warriors.' It reads like a collection of biographies about the various individuals involved in the medical community at the time.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2007

    A History

    This book was fast paced at times, somewhat slow at others, however very detailed and informative throughout. If you're looking for a book, solely on disease, death, and the stats they produce, this book may not be for you. If you would like to understand the HOW and WHY coupled with history, a grim one at that than don't hesitate to pick this one up. One may find it advantagous to start with the authors acknowledgments to get a better idea of what direction he was headed in.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2007

    A reviewer

    There were parts that were very interesting such as the discriptions of the diseases, however the rest of the book only talked about people who were in some way affiliated with the discovery of a vaccination for influenza. The accounts of these people were completely irrelevent to the subject matter, going into minute details such as their marital status, their eating habits, and their overall happiness. Thus had these irrelevant parts been expunged, the book would have been half as long and twice as interesting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2007

    disappointed

    I found this book difficult to follow due to the large use of peoples names and how the book seemed to change topics repeatedly. There is a large amount of science information & clinical terms which at times can be difficult to follow, even for myself who has a medical career.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2006

    Timely, Interesting, and well written.

    Mr. Barry has the wonderful ability to build excitement and suspense even with historical medical information. Extemely well written, he is able to develop the story while letting the reader get inside the minds of the doctors, scientists, politicians and victims of the pandemic. An important story that should never be forgotten.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2013

    Great book

    Super interesting

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    Great book! I am, admittedly, a huge history nerd, so I really e

    Great book! I am, admittedly, a huge history nerd, so I really enjoy a well researched, well laid-out historical book. This one was outstanding. I will be reading more by Mr. Barry.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Great book

    Good representation of what happened

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 14, 2012

    Way too tedious...it might as well be a text book

    I picked up this book after seeing a PBS series on this subject. I found the subject fascinating. However I found the book to over-anlaytical about the science of medicine. The details in which author goes to so that the reader can get an in depth understanding of how a doctor works to cure a disease was too much. I skipped most of it because I was mostly interested in how the disease began, its affects on the country, whats was being done about, and how it eventually subsided. The gist of the book was that the government wasn't prepared (or didn't know how) to deal with the illness as it was affecting the war in europe leaving Woodrow Wilson (a victim of this flu near its end) with having to choose between two evils...continue packing men onto ships where the disease would infect the military leaving them unable to fight upon arrival in Europe or wait until the influenza came to an end while watching Europe become infected by the enemy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2011

    Got my flu shot today!

    Great Historical perspective. The pandemic didn't happen in a vacuum. This book gave political setting, perspectives on scientific advances of the time, and the theory behind the medical treatments of the time. The book also helped me understand the workings of the influenza virus. Just enough to make me want to know more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 5, 2011

    Exhaustively researched and compelling story

    When the H1N1 virus scare started a couple of years ago, I too wondered what the big deal was. It's just the flu, right? Apparently this is what others thought in 1918 as well when the flu virus mutated and jumped from pigs to humans in Kansas (or so the story goes) and spread from there into the war machine already in motion, leading to the epidemic. I think I finally understand why it is not "just the flu" and how the humble flu can sometimes mutate into something much more lethal. I loved the science in this book, although I've read a few reviews that indicate that he made some mistakes in his explanations, which explains a few moments of "hmmm...that doesn't sound quite right". And yes, the first few chapters read a little bit like Genesis, but I stand with those who believe that understanding the primitive nature of the state of medicine in the United States in the early 1900's is part of the key to understanding how this epidemic unfolded, why it was so deadly, and why there was little medicine could do to slow it down or stop it. Although I tend to agree with those who criticize the passages devoted to seemingly irrelevant details about the lives of the medical researchers in the field at the time (and there are some irrelevant details), I think ultimately it serves as a reminder that those who do research are human, and they sometimes focus on the wrong things, get side-tracked by unexpected results or developments, or are influenced by outside forces to pursue lines of research not ultimately fruitful. Barry shines a spotlight on these factors in this book, and from the reaction in the medical and epidemiological circles, it seems the book has served an important purpose. I hope that means that there is research ongoing into influenza, even though there is no current crisis. This is a book that deserves your time.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 15, 2010

    Fascinating Topic

    Not the world's "best read" but a very timely, factual, historical book with incredible relevance, given the spread of swine flu. This book definitely dragged at times, in part because of the level of detail, but given the fascinating topic, I was engrossed enough to wade through all the details. The book is about the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 1917 and 1918, and reads like a mystery story, tracing the origins of the outbreak, against the backdrop of World War I, and the developments within science at the time. I listened to the book on tape, while travelling through the Midwest, through Kansas (the suspected site of origin of H1N1), and found myself not only thinking about the current H1N1 outbreak, but Stephen King's The Stand. Efforts to quaranteen and government attempts to deal with this threat were also quite intriguing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Great for the inside story.

    This is a great inside the story book for the history behind the Spanish Flu. The problems encountered and the solutions found directly apply today too. This is a great historical book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 8, 2010

    Intersting, but too much peripheral info

    Covers a lot of medical history, most related to the flu, but sometimes goes pretty far afield. Awkward writing style, does not read like a modern fiction book. Only gets to the heart of the matter at the very end -the flu is a virus, that mutates very fast, so is hard to make good vacines, etc.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    Very eye opening account of the biggest killer disease of our time. We have not seen a flu virus since the spanish flu. God help us if we do.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2007

    skip the first 200 pages

    Great detail, reads like a graduate project gone bad for the first 200 or so pages. The fascinating part is when he starts describing the detail and symptoms of the disease. A wealth of knowledge masked in an ocean of words. KEEP READING ...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 51 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 3