triumph amid tragedy

Essay by amp11kCollege, UndergraduateA, November 2014

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The Great Influenza


The Great Influenza

An Unimaginable Story of Triumph Amid Tragedy

Amanda Payne

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. By John M. Barry, New York, NY. 2005. ISBN0-14-303649-1. 560 pp. Paperback, $16.

In the novel The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, author John M. Barry breaks down history's most lethal influenza virus that struck in early 1918. In chronological order with a few flashbacks, Barry discusses all aspects of the influenza virus in a medical, political, socio-historical context. Even though this epidemic occurred in the early 20th century, it is relevant today because it identifies one of the first collisions between science and nature. This 'collision' has never stopped and will never stop. He gives emphasis to this relevance at the end of the novel when he compares the influenza virus to a more recent virus outbreak: H1N1.

The importance of this novel is evident as it clearly demonstrates that humans are not invincible and that nature cannot always be controlled. It shows how just influenza was able to spread worldwide and result in more deaths in one year than the Black Plague did in an entire century.

This novel is of the historical genre written in 2005 by an author who has produced other similar novels about natural disasters and their impact such as The Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America. John M. Barry is a best-selling author who has received multiple awards. Due to the nature of his writing, he has been embraced by many experts and is involved in various areas of public policy. Two different presidential administrations have used him as a source of advice for preparation and response to influenza. What's...