The Great Influenza

Recommendation: I did not finish this. I cannot in good conscience recommend you start. Life is too goddamn short

Where to read: I mean normally I’d suggest quarantine (super topical, better the devil you know etc) but just… no

Read with: I have never had any of these, but something off this sublimely bitchy list of terrible bourbons

In brief: Fancy some good ol’ American self-gratifying bombast? Then this is the book for you. The actual subject matter is really quite interesting, but it is totally lost in pretentious, solipsistic prose worthy of an undergrad philoso-bro.


I was tossing up between two books on the 1918 influenza pandemic and went with this one. So many regrets. I honestly do not know why I continued past the prologue when it contained the following passage (among other things):

It [the story of the influenza pandemic] is also a story of science, of discovery, of how one thinks, and how one changes the way one thinks, of how amidst near-utter chaos a few men sought the coolness of contemplation, the utter calm that precedes not philosophizing but grim, determined action.

For the influenza pandemic that erupted in 1918 was the first great collision between nature and modern science. It was the first great collision between a natural force and a society that included individuals who refused either to submit to that force or to simply call upon divine intervention to save themselves from it…” (ebook so page reference is a bit pointless)

I mean…

27 Super Hilarious Robert Downey Jr. GIFs That Show How Expressive ...

Nevertheless, she persisted… for another 100 or so pages of hyperbolic, rage-inducing pomposity before giving up in disgust.

If you can ignore the writing (or otherwise aren’t bothered by it), the history of medical schools and the introduction of scientific methodology into medicine is genuinely interesting and Goodreads leads me to believe the bits on US wartime arrangements and how the US tried to deal with it are too…

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