Flu

Flu

The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It

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A national bestseller, the fast-paced and gripping account of the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 from acclaimed science journalist Gina Kolata, now featuring a new epilogue about avian flu.

When we think of plagues, we think of AIDS, Ebola, anthrax spores, and, of course, the Black Death. But in 1918 the Great Flu Epidemic killed an estimated 40 million people virtually overnight. If such a plague returned today, taking a comparable percentage of the U.S. population with it, 1.5 million Americans would die.

In Flu, Gina Kolata, an acclaimed reporter for The New York Times, unravels the mystery of this lethal virus with the high drama of a great adventure story. From Alaska to Norway, from the streets of Hong Kong to the corridors of the White House, Kolata tracks the race to recover the live pathogen and probes the fear that has impelled government policy.

A gripping work of science writing, Flu addresses the prospects for a great epidemic’s recurrence and considers what can be done to prevent it.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743203982 | 
  • January 2001
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: The Plague Year

This is a detective story. Here was a mass murderer that was around 80 years ago and who's never been brought to justice. And what we're trying to do is find the murderer.

-- Jeffery Taubenberger, molecular pathologist

When the plague came, on those chilly days of autumn, some said it was a terrible new weapon of war. The plague germs were inserted into aspirin made by the German drug company Bayer. Take an aspirin for a headache and the germs will creep through your body. Then your fate is sealed.

No, the plague came in on a camouflaged German ship that had crept into Boston Harbor... see more

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