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Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History

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On the 100th anniversary of the devastating pandemic of 1918, Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the origins of the Great Flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure? While influenz On the 100th anniversary of the devastating pandemic of 1918, Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the origins of the Great Flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure? While influenza is now often thought of as a common and mild disease, it still kills over 30,000 people in the US each year. Dr. Jeremy Brown, currently Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, expounds on the flu's deadly past to solve the mysteries that could protect us from the next outbreak. In Influenza, he talks with leading epidemiologists, policy makers, and the researcher who first sequenced the genetic building blocks of the original 1918 virus to offer both a comprehensive history and a roadmap for understanding what’s to come. Dr. Brown digs into the discovery and resurrection of the flu virus in the frozen victims of the 1918 epidemic, as well as the bizarre remedies that once treated the disease, such as whiskey and blood-letting. Influenza also breaks down the current dialogue surrounding the disease, explaining the controversy over vaccinations, antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, and the federal government’s role in preparing for pandemic outbreaks. Though 100 years of advancement in medical research and technology have passed since the 1918 disaster, Dr. Brown warns that many of the most vital questions about the flu virus continue to confound even the leading experts. Influenza is an enlightening and unnerving look at a shapeshifting deadly virus that has been around long before people—and warns us that it may be many more years before we are able to conquer it for good.


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On the 100th anniversary of the devastating pandemic of 1918, Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the origins of the Great Flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure? While influenz On the 100th anniversary of the devastating pandemic of 1918, Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the origins of the Great Flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure? While influenza is now often thought of as a common and mild disease, it still kills over 30,000 people in the US each year. Dr. Jeremy Brown, currently Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, expounds on the flu's deadly past to solve the mysteries that could protect us from the next outbreak. In Influenza, he talks with leading epidemiologists, policy makers, and the researcher who first sequenced the genetic building blocks of the original 1918 virus to offer both a comprehensive history and a roadmap for understanding what’s to come. Dr. Brown digs into the discovery and resurrection of the flu virus in the frozen victims of the 1918 epidemic, as well as the bizarre remedies that once treated the disease, such as whiskey and blood-letting. Influenza also breaks down the current dialogue surrounding the disease, explaining the controversy over vaccinations, antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, and the federal government’s role in preparing for pandemic outbreaks. Though 100 years of advancement in medical research and technology have passed since the 1918 disaster, Dr. Brown warns that many of the most vital questions about the flu virus continue to confound even the leading experts. Influenza is an enlightening and unnerving look at a shapeshifting deadly virus that has been around long before people—and warns us that it may be many more years before we are able to conquer it for good.

30 review for Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Yun

    Influenza is a quick, interesting read on the history of the flu, where we are today in our fight against it, and how prepared we are should an epidemic strike in the future. I always enjoy a medical science book, and this one's no different. I come away from this having learned so much about this common disease that has killed countless throughout history and continues to do so today. It feels like a particularly appropriate time to read this book as the world is currently dealing with the Coro Influenza is a quick, interesting read on the history of the flu, where we are today in our fight against it, and how prepared we are should an epidemic strike in the future. I always enjoy a medical science book, and this one's no different. I come away from this having learned so much about this common disease that has killed countless throughout history and continues to do so today. It feels like a particularly appropriate time to read this book as the world is currently dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak. There are many fascinating tidbits in this book, including what made the 1918 pandemic so deadly, and the often inverse relationship between how widespread an outbreak is and how deadly it is. The most relevant piece of information I gleaned is that not getting enough sunlight and too low humidity could contribute to the flu's uptick in the winter months. It's a good reminder to keep active and spend time outdoors, even and in particular during the coldest and darkest days of the year.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Simply perfect. Not only does he inform but he also is honest. Actually, he is the most honest medical doctor to express his knowledge and a condition in print that I have come across yet. And I read medical as a group- both public deemed and "in group" heavy textbook criteria testing. In this field especially, I've read dozens over the years since 1976. This book is absolutely the best of those which core the topic of the disease that has killed more humans than any other. More than plague, mor Simply perfect. Not only does he inform but he also is honest. Actually, he is the most honest medical doctor to express his knowledge and a condition in print that I have come across yet. And I read medical as a group- both public deemed and "in group" heavy textbook criteria testing. In this field especially, I've read dozens over the years since 1976. This book is absolutely the best of those which core the topic of the disease that has killed more humans than any other. More than plague, more than all the bacterial past plagues. And more than all the wars and conflicts combined. Many more. And not only in 1918. What makes it the best is that he tells you exactly what isn't known. Much! But also tells you in precise detail the theories. There have been dozens and dozens. From sun spot and weather related theories- all the way to Vitamin D absorption levels per month per year. But beyond the treatments given in the past, the theories and tests, the secondary diseases of demise just post-flu, the location of greatest wave returns, the stats in dozens of charting dependables to age, exposures, other criteria (100's) at the times of largest peaks, etc. etc. etc. Beyond all of that- he does immense criteria and analysis to the anti-flu current RX's- especially within the Tamiflu groups. And also for the governmental deposits of "waiting for the next" and what that costs. Way, way, way more than any border wall or security feature to invasion, homicide, property demolitions, violence to helpless, etc. And most of it is just thrown away. Also, he details all the USA presidential history (especially under Gerald Ford and the crisis of 1976) and also for the 2009 peak year and for the years until 2017/18. Excellent book. And his writing is excellent. Clear. Using all the medical terms but put into context so the least savvy will understand. Most of it, they will. Plus he admits the huge dichotomies of advice. Like the governmental "We know this does not work, but do it anyway" that has been the core prime of most recent years. This review may be longer than I'd hope. But it's important. Read this book. For cultural reasons too- as different places do deal with real flu quite differently. It's a disease of the non-tropical regions of the Earth. Yes, it changes. Yes, it has intersect with birds, mammals at times. No, it's not going to be cured by antibiotics, like a bacterium can be. I'm a witness. I had the flu H1N1(swine intersect) in 1976. Very early first wave, against the peak, in summer. And I don't remember 3 whole days. I had the Last Rites and my kidneys stopped working. But I had two little kids and knew I couldn't go for any reason. But I remember very well not being able to open my eyes because they were so glued shut with dried mucus. And fighting to suck in air. My brother got me to a hospital and it saved my life. So this book was enthralling to me. And I'll think of that poor Private and all the samples used below the permafrost in Alaska (can you imagine being only 8 people left out of nearly 90!!). The beginning of what was done to save that young mother (exact same age as when I had it too)- that starts this book off! Read that, if nothing else. It's particularly deadly to those in the 25-34 age bracket. All reads come together. This one coupled a read I just completed last summer about how poorly testing is done now. The exact same mouse groups in insufficient numbers was cited and examined here too. All the reasons posited here, just exactly as the other sciences that are heralding "consensus" and publishing for job promotion. Consensus and science are opposite quantities by their very core onus. You CAN have a flu in a milder form. So many unanswered questions are asked. He asks they all. Excellent, excellent book. One last stat that has been PROVEN to conclude. If your team NFL in North America goes to the Superbowl- YOUR HOME CITY will then have an increase in 18% flu deaths that next month (February/ March of the same year). Not to the people who WENT to the Superbowl either, but to those elders to which they brought home the virus. It has played that way for the last 20 years. SO- do I want the Bears to win Sunday in the playoffs or not now?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristy K

    "Flu is certainly not the “emperor of all maladies” as cancer was described by the oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, but it is the malady of all empires." This short but informative book about influenza encompasses everything from its history and its impact to the role pharmaceutical companies and the government have played in the pursuit to find an effective vaccine or cure. I found this fascinating. Dr. Brown writes so that layman can understand but also doesn’t shy away from using medical verna "Flu is certainly not the “emperor of all maladies” as cancer was described by the oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, but it is the malady of all empires." This short but informative book about influenza encompasses everything from its history and its impact to the role pharmaceutical companies and the government have played in the pursuit to find an effective vaccine or cure. I found this fascinating. Dr. Brown writes so that layman can understand but also doesn’t shy away from using medical vernacular when necessary. I particularly found the portion on tamiflu interesting as I worked in a doctor’s office years ago and during flu season every patient would beg for this (and research shows that it has very little affect on the flu). Also, the impact the flu has on an economy (both positive and negative) surprised me as I never thought about that before, but it made sense. I highly recommend this for science buffs, history lovers, and anyone interested in learning about something we've all experienced. I received an advanced copy through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    There are worse books about flu. As an American ER doctor from the UK, the author provides some perspective and asks some questions that don't occur to other writers, like "why do we insist on giving everyone flu shots when other countries don't do that?" He also goes into the fuzziness of some of the factoids we have all heard about flu, e.g. tracking how many people have flu. There are one or two good magazine articles in here. Unfortunately, the author expands way beyond his clear circle of ex There are worse books about flu. As an American ER doctor from the UK, the author provides some perspective and asks some questions that don't occur to other writers, like "why do we insist on giving everyone flu shots when other countries don't do that?" He also goes into the fuzziness of some of the factoids we have all heard about flu, e.g. tracking how many people have flu. There are one or two good magazine articles in here. Unfortunately, the author expands way beyond his clear circle of expertise and there it seems like he got tired of asking questions and merely repeated received nonsense. Just to give one example: the 1976 epidemic of Guillain-Barre syndrome accompanying the Swine Flu vaccination program. He quotes the CDC director who got fired over the scandal defending his actions, and the CDC website making it sound like maybe there's a link between the flu shot and GBS and maybe not. He does not reference the Institute of Medicine report on the matter or the primary research articles in big journals like JAMA that show strong evidence for a causal link between the 1976 vaccine and GBS. In this context, he goes on a long rant about not assuming causality for potential side effects that are going to happen anyway by coincidence like heart attacks in old people. Fair enough. But then he should have explained how the GBS evidence is not like that, but he didn't. And he should have applied that level of rigor to the arguments for flu vaccination, but he didn't. He cites the Japanese coincidence study, which even the CDC flu experts wrote critical letters to NEJM about at the time, as if it were reasonable evidence for the benefits of mass vaccination. As far as a book covering similar ground, I would recommend: , and for the 1976 Swine Flu: The Epidemic That Never Was: Policy-Making and the Swine Flu Scare

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kris

    After having read Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918, I was hungry for more books about this piece of history, so I picked this one up. I should have known from the title that it would be more about the flu in general, rather than the 1918 outbreak. Brown mostly talks about treatments for the flu, the efforts to learn about particular strains, tracking and predicting flu outbreaks, and the funding and research that goes into finding a cure. It's all presented in an interes After having read Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918, I was hungry for more books about this piece of history, so I picked this one up. I should have known from the title that it would be more about the flu in general, rather than the 1918 outbreak. Brown mostly talks about treatments for the flu, the efforts to learn about particular strains, tracking and predicting flu outbreaks, and the funding and research that goes into finding a cure. It's all presented in an interesting way, so I don't regret reading it. But I'm less interested in infectious diseases as a topic and more interested in the history of the 1918 flu itself. This is not that book. For what it is, it’s well written. So I can’t penalize it for not being the book I wanted it to be. Where do I go for a history-focused study on this? Perhaps I'll pick these up next: Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It Read this review of Brown's book: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  6. 5 out of 5

    David

    Whether you're looking for a historical account of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic or some information about the influenza virus or the current state of medical research you can probably find something better elsewhere. This book tries to cover those areas and largely fails to combine them in a worthwhile way. Dr. Brown writes well when describing medical information such as the workings of the immune system (early chapters); he's much less successful as a historian (the account of the 1918 pandemi Whether you're looking for a historical account of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic or some information about the influenza virus or the current state of medical research you can probably find something better elsewhere. This book tries to cover those areas and largely fails to combine them in a worthwhile way. Dr. Brown writes well when describing medical information such as the workings of the immune system (early chapters); he's much less successful as a historian (the account of the 1918 pandemic); and he's fully unsuccessful as a social critic (his account of predictive flu models was dull filler). A third of the way into the book I found myself speed reading to get through the material and checking the kindle to see how many pages (locations actually) before the end of the chapter. That's just never a good sign. I may be wrong but some of the material in the book seemed contradictory. One example that stands out is Brown's claim that excessively high doses of aspirin may have caused so many deaths in 1918 whereas he later, I think, offered other reasons. (I know I'm being unhelpfully vague but I just don't have the energy to go back into the book to prove my point.) Brown raises questions about the necessity of vaccinating healthy adults (he doesn't claim the flu vaccine is harmful, only that it can be a poor match for the virus in circulation and not cost effective) but doesn't settle the matter. I didn't find the discussion helpful or interesting and I will continue to get my annual vaccination.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    In the middle of a crisis, it's difficult to find reasoned thought, careful reflection, scientific data. I'm happy I was able to find this book, published just two years ago, but far enough away from the current pandemic to feel ominously prescient. It is comforting to be able to read a history of the flu in the world, to hear facts and data from past pandemics, to look at research, to see that politics and economics have always had a bearing on actions taken.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jaksen

    Won this book from Goodreads giveaway program - thank you Goodreads! I recently read Richard Preston's take on the ebola epidemic of 2014, and now to win this one - wow. But how timely, both books. This one, with latest statistics from 2019, is almost prescient re. how the 'Spanish flu' of 1918 compares to what is happening today. The same old things: quarantines, stay home if you can, don't spit in public - okay we don't have to tell people that anymore, do we? - and the conflict between people, Won this book from Goodreads giveaway program - thank you Goodreads! I recently read Richard Preston's take on the ebola epidemic of 2014, and now to win this one - wow. But how timely, both books. This one, with latest statistics from 2019, is almost prescient re. how the 'Spanish flu' of 1918 compares to what is happening today. The same old things: quarantines, stay home if you can, don't spit in public - okay we don't have to tell people that anymore, do we? - and the conflict between people, public health, and the politics involved, are all eerily similar. With the flu of 1918 bacteria were understood to cause disease; viruses were still unknown. But the fact that people were told - or ordered - to wear masks in public, and that getting together in large groups wasn't smart, that much is oh-so-sadly the same. (A parade in Philadelphia as the flu was warming up tragically showed what the results can be when large groups gather when the flu 'bug' festers.) Takeaways: info on the nation's stockpile, with the author being oh-so-reassuring in that these exist when local or state supplies run out. Huh? (I write this on April 5, 2020). He even documents where the stockpiles are located and to some extent, what's in each. (Well this is news to me.) But along with a history of flu, and how we've dealt with it over the decades, the history of vaccination, and how if about 40% of us are vaccinated we can more or less protect the whole herd - illuminating. And though Covid-19 and the Spanish Flu are really two diff. 'birds,' the fact is that both wear feathers, can infect us as easily as breathing air, and each must be taken so seriously... (Did you hear that, folks - seriously!) ...are only few ways these two pandemics are/were so tragically alike. Four stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aria

    ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- Will complete the review later, but for now I'll say I can't recommend this. It's already out-of-date. Enough so that the epilogue needs to be re-written. Also, he is reckless when it comes to Vitamin D, & quite obviously behind the research. Additionally, some of the things he claims in 1 portion of the book are contradicted by what he claims in a later portion. I'm not referring to conflicting studies or sources here. I mean w ---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- Will complete the review later, but for now I'll say I can't recommend this. It's already out-of-date. Enough so that the epilogue needs to be re-written. Also, he is reckless when it comes to Vitamin D, & quite obviously behind the research. Additionally, some of the things he claims in 1 portion of the book are contradicted by what he claims in a later portion. I'm not referring to conflicting studies or sources here. I mean what he specifically claims can not be true in one section he later claims to be a definite issue. There are a few other things, but I will address it all later. Reviews like this that require a significant effort on my part b/c the author didn't do thorough work really get under my skin, so it's wise I don't go straight into them right after I've concluded the reading. Given the current climate, I think it would be a really bad idea to go forward with publishing this book right now; irresponsible, even. With some (not insignificant) changes it could be a good product, & it's my opinion that the better option for every involved party would be to post-pone publication. I know better than to think that will happen, but my recommendation remains unchanged. ----- A more complete review will follow at a later date.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Really interesting and slightly scary especially considering the current looming threat of a corona virus pandemic. I was fascinated to learn that the oft stated theory of flu coming in winter because people are inside, close together has been scientifically debunked and that at least some of the scientifically proven explanations involve Vitamin D deficiency and the ability of the flu virus to transmit better in cold, dry air. Popsugar Reading Challenge 2020: A medical thriller

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it. Dr Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the surprising origins of the 1918 flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are w I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it. Dr Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the surprising origins of the 1918 flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure? While influenza is now often thought of as a mild disease, it kills thousands each year. Dr Jeremy Brown, currently Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, expounds on the flu’s deadly past to solve the mysteries that could protect us from the next outbreak. In Influenza, he talks with leading epidemiologists, policymakers, and the researcher who first sequenced the genetic building blocks of the virus to offer both a comprehensive history and a roadmap for understanding what’s to come. Dr Brown digs into the discovery and resurrection of the flu virus in the victims of the 1918 epidemic exhumed from the tundra, as well as the bizarre remedies that once treated the disease, such as fatal doses of aspirin and blood-letting. Influenza also breaks down the current dialogue surrounding the disease, explaining the controversy over vaccinations, antiviral drugs, and the government’s role in preparing for a pandemic. Dr Brown warns that many of the most vital questions about the flu virus continue to confound even the leading experts. Influenza is an enlightening and unnerving look at a shapeshifting deadly virus that has been around since long before people and will most likely be with us for a long time to come. It has been a century since the pandemic of 1918 killed millions upon millions yet we still do not have a cure for the flu. Yes, we have flu shots that help lessen the symptoms but the CDC still cannot control it or kill it. Nor can they force people to get the vaccine as so many mothers and fathers are anti-vax in regards to their children or afraid that it will give you the flu. Much like the current outbreak sickening and killing people via romaine lettuce, viruses can last and mutate and the simplest thing like a bowl of salad or a burger from Jack in the Box (E. coli) or a sneeze (the common cold and the flu) can kill. Ditto for MRSA – if we cannot “kill” the flu we cannot eradicate a lot of sicknesses. My husband, a History Channel Documentary addict likes to talk of how in 1918 people were buried in mass graves on the edge of town (Victoria Harbour where is mom and dad were from did this). A trip through any older cemetery will show a lack of people buried in 1918 as people were terrified that it could come off the bodies. If you look you will find scads of graves where siblings died within days of each other – one mass grave with headstones in Niagara Falls had eight siblings die in a two-month span in 1919. I applaud Dr. Brown on digging up information (and bodies!) in the research of this book – he is entertaining yet very knowledgeable of the subject. And brave. Seriously brave. With no cure a century later, he was heroic in his digging up of bodies in order to understand how it spread worldwide in so little time for no apparent reason and how it went from person to person (especially in tear-inducing scenes on “Downton Abbey”!) Also, I always wondered about bloodletting and why they did it --- sometimes the “cure” can kill, ditto for massive doses of aspirin. Now I kind of understand it due to Dr Brown. Will we ever CURE the flu? It is hard to say but we may be able to contain it. Or understand how it spreads. But if we cannot even contain something like MRSA as diseases become “smarter” and medication-resistant I am unsure that we will ever conquer the flu. Great cook, Dr. Brown – you deserve 💉💉💉💉💉  

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    This is an excellent short examination of the flu epidemic of 1918 and an exploration of the current state of flu treatment and vaccination. The author is an emergency room physician, born in the United Kingdom and now living and practicing in the United States. I like the way he is able to compare the US vs the UK in dealing with annual flu outbreaks. The UK doesn't vaccinate everyone over 6 months of age like we try to in the US, and there seems to be little effect on outcome either way. The au This is an excellent short examination of the flu epidemic of 1918 and an exploration of the current state of flu treatment and vaccination. The author is an emergency room physician, born in the United Kingdom and now living and practicing in the United States. I like the way he is able to compare the US vs the UK in dealing with annual flu outbreaks. The UK doesn't vaccinate everyone over 6 months of age like we try to in the US, and there seems to be little effect on outcome either way. The author's writing style does an excellent job of imparting information without being textbook-dry, which I really appreciate. There are some things that have relevance to our current Covid-19 pandemic. For example, Philadelphia had a war bonds rally at the time the flu was just breaking out and because of the crowds at the event many people were infected and later died. Other cities which banned large public events had much less disease and fewer deaths. A lesson we would do well to pay attention to now.

  13. 5 out of 5

    graceful

    I fell asleep while listening to the last two chapters of this book, but I don't want to go back to see what I missed. I think, then, its a bit obvious how I felt about this book. I feel like the author was stepping out of his area of expertise and, while I'm very sure that he researched everything he said, it still felt like a lot of what was said within the book was opinion based. He didn't go into depth on flu vaccines, for example, giving neither side the benefit of clear explanation and bein I fell asleep while listening to the last two chapters of this book, but I don't want to go back to see what I missed. I think, then, its a bit obvious how I felt about this book. I feel like the author was stepping out of his area of expertise and, while I'm very sure that he researched everything he said, it still felt like a lot of what was said within the book was opinion based. He didn't go into depth on flu vaccines, for example, giving neither side the benefit of clear explanation and being a bit confusing as to what side he was on specifically. A lot of little things like that or the chapter-long tirade about Tamiflu just made the book feel jumbled and confusing. Of course, there was also the biggest pet peeve I have towards medical history books in this book as well. It might not be a thing that grates on other people's nerves as much as mine. Still, I tend to devalue an author's opinion when they break out the classic "those remedies of the 19th century, like bloodletting, were so very barbaric" and "but why would they ever continue using a remedy that proved not to work????". The author was also perplexed as to why quinine would be used as a treatment for the 1918 flu pandemic. It's a small thing, but it shows how little regard they have towards the past. People of the 19th century kept using those remedies because they didn't have anything else. Acting as if the people of the 21rst century are so advanced is going to look arrogant to people in the future. It already looks arrogant, especially since the author continues to say that our modern flu remedies haven't advanced much past those of the 1918 flu pandemic. That may be something others can look past, however, especially if you aren't as familiar with the history of medicine, hence why I gave this book two stars. There were some good things to this book, of course, or else I wouldn't have made it this far into it. It was interesting, for example, to see how the author did bring his expertise of being an ER doctor into the narrative. It was interesting to see the history of the flu and the way we treat it compared to the practical, on the spot treatment of it in the ER, and it helped to highlight the difficulties of tracking the flu and its spread. On top of that, amidst the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, it's interesting to see an opinion of future flu pandemics before our current pandemic even happened and how obvious it was to many people that another pandemic would eventually occur. All in all, I wouldn't recommend this book, since I feel like many others accomplishing what this book does well without all of the negative aspects. But I can't stop you from reading this, and I don't think this book is the worst out there.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    HOW do you review a book like this? I could absolutely do a term paper on this book and with a little more research and a few more notes [than what I already took], I could write a research paper on this book. But a review for Goodreads and NetGalley? THAT will be a little more difficult. So I am going to give it my best attempt [and I am sure this will be edited quite a bit while I am writing it] and I will hope for the best. I will say to start, that this was one of the best books I have read HOW do you review a book like this? I could absolutely do a term paper on this book and with a little more research and a few more notes [than what I already took], I could write a research paper on this book. But a review for Goodreads and NetGalley? THAT will be a little more difficult. So I am going to give it my best attempt [and I am sure this will be edited quite a bit while I am writing it] and I will hope for the best. I will say to start, that this was one of the best books I have read in a long time, and one of the best-written nonfiction books I have read this year [Educated by Tara Westover is also one of the best-written books I have read as well]. This is not some dry, textbook-like tome. This book is full of facts and information yes, but there is also humor [which was unexpected] and optimism, which was also unexpected. The author doesn't shy away from unpopular opinions and speaks both what he sees as truth and believes to be truth, based on the exhaustive research he has done on this subject. I learned things I never knew [like what ECMO means - I have heard that in medical shows on TV all the time but had NO IDEA what it stood for {extracorporeal membrane oxygenation - basically, the heart/lung machine}], and confirmed things I had known [bloodletting IS bad!!] all along. This book also gave me facts that blew my mind - in the 1918 Pandemic, it is estimated that between 50 - 100 million people died; 675,000 in the US alone [which is 10x as many as died in the Great War {that was just ending when the Pandemic broke out}]. And should an Pandemic of this level happen today, the estimate of death is close to 2 million people in the US alone. Those numbers are numbing and horrifying. To quote the book, "One hundred years after the pandemic of 1918, we have learned an enormous amount about influenza. We know its genetic code [And THAT is a great chapter in this book; how they are able to do this is absolutely fascinating], how it mutates, and how it makes us sick, and yet we still don't have effective ways to fight it. The antiviral medications we have are pretty useless, and the flu vaccine is a poor defense. In good year it is effective only half the time, and in 2018 the record was even worse; the vaccine was only effective in about one-third of those who received it [or about 20%]." If you are a pessimist, you will believe that there will be another pandemic like the one of 1918. If you are an optimist, you believe that our defenses are well enough placed to ward off a pandemic, though there could still be some problems. And if you are a realist, like the author, you believe a little of both. With all the information given here, it will be quite some time before I am sure what I believe and where I lie on that spectrum. There is BIG business and money in Influenza though and so the vaccines go on, even with the knowledge that they consistently do not work. There is HUGE money in the antivirals [the chapter on that will absolutely blow your mind], again with the knowledge that they consistently [and is proven] do not work. And we the public are bombarded with information that is has little truth to it but is touted as gospel and I think that is the biggest take from this book that scares me the most. Because ultimately, the very people we think that would help save us should a pandemic happen, have very little clue on how to actually DO that. They know how and where and why, but the treatment has and continues to baffle them. To quote the book again: "The impulse to do something, to react in the face of catastrophe, is a common theme in our fight against influenza." And that, is where the problem truly lies. A VERY good read, one I recommend people to find and read themselves. We will never move forward without the masses themselves educating themselves about issues like this and making the best informed decision for themselves and not just what the government is telling them is truth and what to believe. Thank you to NetGalley and Touchstone Publishing for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    Fascinating history on influenza! He does a great job of looking at the view from all aspects (medically, financially, how it affects the economy and impacts or reactions across the world). Especially interesting because of everything happening with COVID. He shares in the book that a major pandemic like the 1918 would happen soon and holy smokes it did. Loved the perspective and research he was able to give. Can’t wait to see what he writes about COVID!

  16. 5 out of 5

    David

    Here's an idea: on the 100-year anniversary of the Spanish flu pandemic, a history of the flu written by an actual doctor. In this case, a medical doctor who actually has seen perhaps hundreds of cases of the flu himself provides an interestingly unique viewpoint. He's also a good writer. Although the title and marketing of this book might lead you to believe it is about the 1918 pandemic, it really isn't. It is about influenzas generally, and travels back and forth in time (without being at all Here's an idea: on the 100-year anniversary of the Spanish flu pandemic, a history of the flu written by an actual doctor. In this case, a medical doctor who actually has seen perhaps hundreds of cases of the flu himself provides an interestingly unique viewpoint. He's also a good writer. Although the title and marketing of this book might lead you to believe it is about the 1918 pandemic, it really isn't. It is about influenzas generally, and travels back and forth in time (without being at all confusing) from the author's present-day experience as an ER doctor to about 430 BC, when Thucydides made what is probably the oldest written record of an influenza-like outbreak. However, if you are going to write a history of influenzas generally, the 1918 pandemic is going to loom large in the narrative, and it does here. Since I teach English, I think more about what words mean than the average clam, and this book made me realize that I have been, to my deep pedagogical shame, using the words epidemic and pandemic interchangeably. In my defense, I can only repeat information in this book, that is, The New York Times has publicly admitted that the definition depends largely on who is speaking. Furthermore, the author says, “[n]o one really agrees on exact meanings” (Kindle location 450). The author continues:The most useful definition we have is that an epidemic is a severe local outbreak, while a pandemic is a global outbreak that makes people very sick, and spreads rapidly from a point of origin. New topic: toward the end of the book, there is quite a bit of interesting information about those villains at large pharmaceutical companies stirring up a sense of panic among the population in order to get bureaucrats and lawmakers to buy an expensive load of flu vaccine for emergency stockpiles. I found the ending to be less than completely pleasing. In it, the author sets up two straw man arguments -- optimists and pessimists -- and then knocks them down before declaring himself to be a “realist”. It's hard to fault someone for being a realist, but I don't think he demonstrated that people who hold different views from his are somehow not “realists”. After declaring himself a realist, the author says that the 1918 flu epidemic does not loom large enough in our collective memory, and suggests that a new memorial be built here in Washington DC in honor of those who died. It's hard to object to a memorial without appearing hard-hearted, but I think the city is already starting to experience monument overload. I don't see a monument having much of an effect other than perhaps making us feel good for a moment. Better history education would be a better solution, but better education is difficult and expensive. Still, accept no substitutes. I received a free electronic advance review copy of this book via Netgalley and Simon & Schuster.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    The 1918 epidemic has always held a fascination for me so I have read pretty much any book around on the subject. This one only touches on it lightly. It is written by a doctor and each chapter details a period of history and the effects that influenza epidemics had on the people, also the treatments etc. It got a bit dry towards the end with stats and whatnot. What was truly interesting was the politics and financial dealings around so call 'cures' for influenza. For example, he talks about ant The 1918 epidemic has always held a fascination for me so I have read pretty much any book around on the subject. This one only touches on it lightly. It is written by a doctor and each chapter details a period of history and the effects that influenza epidemics had on the people, also the treatments etc. It got a bit dry towards the end with stats and whatnot. What was truly interesting was the politics and financial dealings around so call 'cures' for influenza. For example, he talks about antiviral medications such as Tamiflu which when it came out was heavily advertised as a wonder cure for the flu. So much so the US government stockpiled it. Further investigation by unbiased researchers in the following years shows that Tamiflu only lessen the flu by less than one day. But it is still prescribed and is extremely expensive. I guess someone is making money. Ironically this book arrived at my library just one week after I recovered from a month long bout of H1N1 influenza which is rife in my city at the moment. I had a flu shot but the virus got me. They are sneaky little things.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

    Great synopsis on Flu. Excellent mix of science and history. Very quick and easy to read/listen to. Perfect timing to read while under lockdown on COVID19. Full of interesting information about history of influenza, pandemics, vaccines, and even the ways we treat/treated flu.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maxine

    In Influenza: The Hundred Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History, Dr jeremy Brown looks at influenza from many different angles - history and why the 1918 flu was so deadly, the likelihood of another similar pandemic, market responses from the Pharmaceutical companies and their efficacy, government responses including warehousing stockpiles of anti-influenza medications, and the value of the flu vaccine and who, if anyone, should get it. The book is fairly short but it is interesting In Influenza: The Hundred Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History, Dr jeremy Brown looks at influenza from many different angles - history and why the 1918 flu was so deadly, the likelihood of another similar pandemic, market responses from the Pharmaceutical companies and their efficacy, government responses including warehousing stockpiles of anti-influenza medications, and the value of the flu vaccine and who, if anyone, should get it. The book is fairly short but it is interesting, well-written, well-documented, and in language that makes it accessible to people like myself with no medical background in the subject. Thanks to Edelweiss+ and Atria Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review

  20. 4 out of 5

    P D

    Interesting history of influenza. The unique thing here is the ER doc's perspective on it - although I will say that has pros and cons. There were definitely parts of this book I felt would've been more effective if written by public health and policy experts. Being at the ground level is important, but you can lose certain perspectives because of it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    A highly prescient book. Dr. Brown lays out his arguments cogently and is captivating enough to bring a dense subject to life. I would recommend this book to those interested in the history of science and who are concerned about the future of disease and our responses to diseases.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jason Sands

    Great read This book covers the 1918 flu pandemic and efforts to track and fight the flu since that time. The author is a doctor who writes in a way that the layperson can understand. I found it fascinating.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew T.

    Fascinating and informative

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kimberley Chambers

    Interesting and easy to read

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I read the book from the library but was so good that I am going to buy my own cooy. But only is it medically and economically fascinating but I'll also be able to use parts in my math classes.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Val

    Reading a book about Influenza during a global pandemic is an interesting experience. This was a well-written and appropriately detailed account of the last 100 years of humanity’s efforts to find a cure for influenza. There are chapters about different coronaviruses we have seen before, such as Avian Flu, Hong Kong flu, Swine flu, etc. This book was published in 2018 and the author, an ER doctor, presciently predicted then that the next influenza pandemic was “just around the corner,” and here Reading a book about Influenza during a global pandemic is an interesting experience. This was a well-written and appropriately detailed account of the last 100 years of humanity’s efforts to find a cure for influenza. There are chapters about different coronaviruses we have seen before, such as Avian Flu, Hong Kong flu, Swine flu, etc. This book was published in 2018 and the author, an ER doctor, presciently predicted then that the next influenza pandemic was “just around the corner,” and here we are today with 318,662 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide and 13,672 deaths so-far, and people social distancing and ordered to stay home in most of the world’s largest cities. A few things I found insightful in this book: First, that doctors and researchers have tried since the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 using primaquine and its derivatives against influenza because it is effective on fevers (Malaria) and some strains of pneumonia. Primaquine has not worked as a cure for Spanish Flu or any subsequent Coronavirus variants to-date, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out during COVID-19 while doctors and big pharmaceutical are trying to rush clinical trials of the latest primaquine derivative, hydroxychloroquine, against COVID-19. Although news reports indicate this medication is having some positive early results on some symptoms, the same thing happened in 1918 with Spanish Flu, so there is reason to be skeptical that other forms of primaquine we have now will be truly successful as cures for coronaviruses. They may treat some symptoms, but have never proven in history to be a cure for influenza. Second, the author discourages the use of Tylenol or other fever-reducing medicines to treat the fever and body aches of the flu, unless the fever is in a temperature range that is life-threatening to the brain. The medical reason makes scientific sense... mild fever is part of the body’s immune response to an attacking virus, and viruses don’t like increased temperature. They thrive better in lower body temperature, so by taking Tylenol to be more comfortable while having a fever, parents and doctors are actually reducing somewhat the body’s natural defenses against viruses. The author points out that doctors and parents want the sick person to be comfortable, and so they give fever-reducers for that reason, but there is no medicinal reason to give fever-reducers to someone with a mild fever, and doing so may slow down the person’s ability to overcome the virus and recover more quickly. Yet doctors will keep telling parents to take it, or to give it to sick kids, because doctors don’t like to tell people not to do anything when they are sick. Third, Tamiflu. The media touts it. Doctors dispense it. Parents want it for their kids. Governments stockpile it for their pandemic response arsenals. Yet according to the author and various credible studies he quotes, Tamiflu does nothing to cure the flu and at best speeds recovery by less than half a day. The credible studies indicate Tamiflu is best at producing damaging side-effects that are worse for most people than the symptoms from strains of flu they are trying to overcome. However, governments keep buying it and making billions of dollars for Roche Pharma, despite no medical evidence Tamiflu cures the flu. People will no doubt continue to ask their doctors for it, and doctors, wanting to put their patients’ minds at ease, will continue to dispense it even though the side-effects are worse than the flu. The info about Tamiflu in this book is very interesting, and disturbing that the public and governments are spending so much on something that does so little. Fourth, the author talks about various things doctors over the past 100 years have done to help influenza patients, from chicken soup to aspirin to Tamiflu, to nothing. Chicken soup has some positive benefits for some symptoms but is not a cure, but also does no harm to a patient, so it is better than many other things people ask for and doctors dispense, that actually can do harm. Recent medical studies indicate that a new drug available during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 may have killed more victims than the flu itself because it was given in dosages now known to be highly dangerous: aspirin. I found this book interesting, enlightening, entertaining, and prescient given what we see now with COVID-19. Five stars for content, writing, and importance to public health.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Popoy Mindalano

    Dr. Jeremy Brown, an ER doctor from the USA, explores the history of the Influenza virus. Its complications, the devastation that it caused in the past up to recent times claiming millions of lives and the race to create the ultimate cure to defeat the disease once and for all. The purpose of this book is to provide insight into the Influenza virus and similar zoonotic diseases so we could be conscious of our unreadiness for another occurrence of epidemic or pandemic disease judging by the respon Dr. Jeremy Brown, an ER doctor from the USA, explores the history of the Influenza virus. Its complications, the devastation that it caused in the past up to recent times claiming millions of lives and the race to create the ultimate cure to defeat the disease once and for all. The purpose of this book is to provide insight into the Influenza virus and similar zoonotic diseases so we could be conscious of our unreadiness for another occurrence of epidemic or pandemic disease judging by the response that we have on past outbreaks. I have included this on one of my next-read lists during this isolation considering its similarity on the current pathogen that stricken the world at the moment. I want to be enlightened with facts and not just mere guesswork prompted by emotional stress. Such a terrifying crisis evokes various emotional reactions due to self-preservation instincts. This book reveals, indeed, that historically fatal and contagious disease causes panic and fear that leads to speculations and reliance on bizarre cures and treatments. One of the conjectures made, as mentioned in this book, that the flu virus diminish during the summer season. Medical science could not possibly find the correlation except that one of their theory was that sunlight exposure grants us Vitamin D necessary for the enhancement of our immune response. They also have a theory of close contact contagion during winter where the causal factor is that since it is often freezing, people tend to crowd together to beat the chilling season. Getting together in a confined space would be a perfect environment for contagion. Theories materialized also in our own time of crisis which is now circulating online. They have this conjecture that the virus would die down when the summer season arrives. Experts have no scientific evidence to prove that based on the empirical facts provided by this book. It just does not work in that manner. The virus is just complex in nature and difficult to predict. Hence, one of the challenging factors by medical professionals in finding a vaccine on the Influenza virus was its ability to mutate so quickly. Frustration arises when a vaccine was already developed and it turned out to be a mismatch because it had already mutated itself. I pray that such a dreaded scenario will not befall in the search of COVID-19 vaccine. The impacts of a pandemic have a uniform pattern since time immemorial. One of its devastating impacts is the serious economic consequence that comes with it. There is always a catch, and we cannot have the best of both worlds. It is rather grueling to find a solution that would both save the economy and protect the citizens at the same time. But there is always an option, however, to strike a balance as much as possible. Mankind has reached heights in terms of medical advancement. We have reached the peak of modernity. Be that as it may, the ingenuity of these pathogens still outmatches us despite our cunnings. We just lack the awareness of its enormity not until at present and we have learned it, unfortunately, also at our own peril. This book implies that the response system in times of an outbreak is outdated and the budget for advance research for pathogens is a pittance. Experts have warned us of an outbreak now and again but it fell on deaf ears. Another 1918 pandemic is just a matter of time, warned Dr. Brown, and it already landed on our shores and arrived on our doorsteps. This book is so appropriate in this dark time. How can we utilize our time constructively in this lockdown except by gaining insights on the history of these pathogens? Being aware might perhaps influence future policies or it might bear our interest to urge our children to consider the calling of being an epidemiologist. This book is highly recommended at a times like this.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pete Schulte

    During the first part of the 20th century a terror was unleashed across the globe. The obvious answer would be WWI (1914-1918). But as horrific as that war was, there was an unseen killer around that same time period that took far more lives and covered a great deal more distance. That killer was the 1918 influenza pandemic (also known as the Spanish flu), which infected perhaps 500 million people and killed between 50 to 100 million people. An ordinary flu can still be quite dangerous, especial During the first part of the 20th century a terror was unleashed across the globe. The obvious answer would be WWI (1914-1918). But as horrific as that war was, there was an unseen killer around that same time period that took far more lives and covered a great deal more distance. That killer was the 1918 influenza pandemic (also known as the Spanish flu), which infected perhaps 500 million people and killed between 50 to 100 million people. An ordinary flu can still be quite dangerous, especially to very old or very young individuals. But this wicked strain of flu also went after and killed ordinarily healthy adults as well. Dr. Jeremy Brown’s upcoming book (to be published 12/18/18 upon the hundred year anniversary of that nasty bug) attempts to answer many questions regarding the Spanish flu. For example, why was that particular flu strain (H1N1) so deadly? Why did it strike so fiercely, seemingly unstoppable, only to disappear on its own? What did doctors do to attempt to treat the flu? What are they doing today? And finally, should you get an annual flu shot? Remember, flu strains change and the vaccine you receive may only be effective against 20 to 50 percent of the strains. There may be a bird virus one year and a pig virus the next -- or even a viral mixture from several different animals. With humans and animals living in closer and closer proximity, will there be another influenza season as devastating as the 1918 pandemic? Consider that deep under the ice in some frozen tundra this very strain of flu is still out there, buried with the bodies it took. Now it’s getting warmer and the ice is melting. Is it still out there…waiting? This flu is also in a lab somewhere -- hopefully under the safest containment. As alarming as all that sounds, I found Dr. Brown’s book quite fascinating. The race is on for more effective vaccines and maybe even a cure. After reading this book, I have decided to continue getting an annual flu shot, though not all countries recommend that this be done. Luckily many US health plans offer a free flu shot. Please consider taking advantage.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michele bookloverforever

    Hamilton Reviews Please read this book! I listened to my grandmother's takes of this pandemic. She lost one of her 9 brothers to it. It left one brother with lifelong lung problems. Being a curious child and teen I listened to a lot of first person accounts. All remembered the fear. For years many were reluctant to go to a hospital because they associated it with unnumbered dead and dying. And, of course, I myself endured a double diagnosis of flu and pneumonia . I found the book fascinating and Hamilton Reviews Please read this book! I listened to my grandmother's takes of this pandemic. She lost one of her 9 brothers to it. It left one brother with lifelong lung problems. Being a curious child and teen I listened to a lot of first person accounts. All remembered the fear. For years many were reluctant to go to a hospital because they associated it with unnumbered dead and dying. And, of course, I myself endured a double diagnosis of flu and pneumonia . I found the book fascinating and factual. And I read it at the beginning of another novel virus pandemic covid 19 or corona virus. Exhibiting mild symptoms of some kind of flu I was e encouraged to not seem testing. To stay home and treat the symptoms unless I became unable to breathe. Which I've done..Stayed home, away from other members of my family and sterilizing everywhere I've been. And eating chicken soup....in addition, when I first read of the first outbreak in China i figured my country would see it's first cases within 2 weeks and began curtailing my trips outside to those of doctor and pharmacy and grocery stops...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Literary Soirée

    A fascinating look at flu, timed to the 100-year anniversary of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, one which took my great-aunt and altered our family history forever. The author, Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, includes a fair amount of medicalese, which suits me fine as a former medical writer but may be tough for readers without a health care background. Still highly absorbing at it examines influenza’s history, our preparedness for the next pandem A fascinating look at flu, timed to the 100-year anniversary of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918, one which took my great-aunt and altered our family history forever. The author, Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, includes a fair amount of medicalese, which suits me fine as a former medical writer but may be tough for readers without a health care background. Still highly absorbing at it examines influenza’s history, our preparedness for the next pandemic, the efficacy of shots, and the possibility of a cure. Highly recommended! Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine. Pub Date 18 Dec 2018. InfluenzaTheHundredYearHuntToCureTheDeadliestDiseaseInHistory #NetGalley

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