The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History (Paperback)

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#1 New York Times bestseller

“Barry will teach you almost everything you need to know about one of the deadliest outbreaks in human history.”—Bill Gates, GatesNotes.com

"Monumental... an authoritative and disturbing morality tale."—Chicago Tribune 


The strongest weapon against pandemic is the truth. Read why in the definitive account of the 1918 Flu Epidemic. 

Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research, The Great Influenza provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon. As Barry concludes, "The final lesson of 1918, a simple one yet one most difficult to execute, is that...those in authority must retain the public's trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one. Lincoln said that first, and best. A leader must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart."   

At the height of World War I, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease.

About the Author


John M. Barry is the author of four previous books: Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed Amer­ica; Power Plays: Politics, Football, and Other Blood Sports; The Transformed Cell: Unlocking the Mysteries of Cancer (cowritten with Steven Rosenberg); and The Ambition and the Power: A True Story of Washington. He lives in New Orleans and Wash­ington, D.C.

Praise For…


Over a year on The New York Times bestseller list

"Monumental... powerfully intelligent... not just a masterful narrative... but also an authoritative and disturbing morality tale." —Chicago Tribune 

"Easily our fullest, richest, most panoramic history of the subject." The New York Times Book Review

"Hypnotizing, horrifying, energetic, lucid prose..." Providence Observer

"A sobering account of the 1918 flu epidemic, compelling and timely. The Boston Globe

"History brilliantly written... The Great Influenza is a masterpiece." Baton Rouge Advocate  
Product Details
ISBN: 9780143036494
ISBN-10: 0143036491
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: October 4th, 2005
Pages: 560
Language: English