The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic swept the world. First spreading through troop movements during World War I, the influenza virus killed approximately 50 to 100 million people. No treatment then available could stop the rapidly mutating virus. John Barry’s epic history combines a technical focus on scientific efforts to stop the pandemic with a gripping narrative about its spread and horrific impact. Writing prior to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, Barry presents uncanny parallels to today and harkens to deadly lessons apparently still unlearned.
A distinguished scholar, historian and adjunct faculty member at Tulane University, Barry writes on a broad range of subjects. Among his other well-known works are Rising Ride, about a devastating 1927 Mississippi flood. His book, Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul, concerns one’s American lasting influence, especially in the United States’ unprecedented insistence on the separation of church and state.