The effects of this disease were felt all over the globe, and while the severity of the flu and the social implications it had were far worse than the Black Death (which everyone has studied in school!), there is very little coverage of it in history classes. I knew that it had happened, but had no idea of the ramifications. One of the very effective devices of this book is to record accounts of famous people who survived their affliction. Walt Disney, authors Katharine Porter and Ernest Hemingway, and President Woodrow Wilson all were stricken ill but recovered. In the case of Wilson, the hallucinations attendant upon the disease may have negatively impacted his dealings with the League of Nations, and therefore changed the course of history. Hearing about the people who survived gave a graver feeling of immediacy to the assertion that the contributions of many, many people were lost because they did not survive.
Modern medicine has made great strides in both understanding and treating diseases, and toward the end of the book we are given a lot more explanation about why the Spanish Flu was so deadly. This explanation is followed by a rather complete history of medical sleuthing from ancient times to the present complete with timelines, as well as a good index, excellent bibliography, and complete notes.
This is on the lengthier side of narrative nonfiction for younger readers, which might make this more useful for research than pleasure reading. Children who are very interested in medical topics and who enjoyed Jurmain's The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing, Murphy's Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure, Jarrow's Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary or Wittenstein's For the Good of Mankind? : The Shameful History of Human Medical Experimentation will be riveted by the detailed descriptions of both the disease and its effects on society and the medical communities investigation of the Spanish Flu's genesis and cure.