More Deadly Than War: The Hidden History of the Spanish Flu and the First World War

Kenneth C. Davis. Holt, $19.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-14512-3
Davis (In the Shadow of Liberty) immediately sets the urgent tone of his forthright chronicle, citing staggering statistics: the Spanish Flu pandemic that began in spring 1918 claimed the lives of more than 675,000 Americans in a single year and left a worldwide death toll estimated at 100 million. The author structures his exhaustive account of the origins, transmission, and consequences of the pandemic within the framework of WWI, underscoring the lethal concurrence of these “twin catastrophes.” The first recorded flu outbreak in the U.S. occurred at a military training camp in Kansas; infected soldiers then spread the virus on Europe-bound transport ships and delivered it to frontline barracks and trenches. Davis puts a human face on the pandemic, interlacing tales of political, military, and civilian luminaries struck by the flu, and also connects with readers through contemporary analogies, likening German propaganda to “fake news,” and a sneeze’s emission of fast-flying, virus-carrying droplets to “a video game with space invaders.” Davis also assiduously documents modern medical research and puts the pandemic in the context of medical history. Patriotic posters and photos illuminate both the spirit and devastation of the period. Ages 10–14. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/02/2018
Release date: 05/15/2018
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