Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Brought to you by Penguin.
With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the 20th century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I.
In Pale Rider, Laura Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain and from South Africa to Odessa. She shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered, and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test.
Laura Spinney demonstrates that the Spanish flu was as significant – if not more so – as two world wars in shaping the modern world, in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 4 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||30 April 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| 33,093 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
18 in Epidemiology (Books)
20 in Contagious Diseases
29 in Medicine History & Commentary
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No, this isn't a review of a book about 2020, it's a review of a book on the misnamed Spanish flu of the early twentieth century. Long treated as a historical quirk - that mostly forgotten thing which killed more people than the First World War - the global pandemic has become rather more newsworthy since we've faced a similar challenge a century on.
Many of the parallels between then and now are striking, though the one big difference - the huge advances in medical science and in public health expertise - make the outcome mercifully different.
Laura Spinney's Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World is a great and highly accessible guide to one of the twentieth century's greatest tragedies.
It is not a detailed academic study. Statistics, for example, are frequently only mentioned in passing, with little detailed analysis presented to back them up or put them in context. The endnotes are fairly briefly for the amount of information presented in the book and there is no bibliography. That said, the book has a good reputation and it looks as if the evidence presented is robust; it's just presented in a popular style which means you often have to take that on trust. Rather than taking the form of an academic study, the book takes the form of a (very) long read piece of journalism, which makes sense as the author is a science journalist.
The sheer volume of information - and the size of the numbers involved - make the book a little overwhelming at times. It's easy to end up grazing through several pages without quite taking in what they really mean. But that's as much on the reader as the author.
Pale Rider ranges widely over history, with many digressions into earlier outbreaks and medical history. There are even a couple of paragraphs on how animals use social distancing from their brethren to protect against diseases
Read it and you'll also find out why 'the Spanish flu' got that inaccurate name.
This book provides great detail of the outbreak, and how it shaped world events. Without the outbreak, there would probably have been no President Trump. If you're interested in that point, I suggest you read this book
After my man flu, I got myself vaccinated. Yes, I know, horse & stable door!