PURPLE DEATH by David Getz


The Mysterious Flu of 1918
by & illustrated by
Age Range: 9 - 11
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The title reflects the general tone of this study of the pandemic that killed half a million Americans in six months, and 20 to 40 million worldwide. After describing the disease’s symptoms (“Delirious from lack of oxygen, these young men rolled and thrashed about on their beds and cots, moaning, mumbling, and spitting up blood”), the spread, and the frantic but ineffective efforts to control it, Getz (Life on Mars, 1997, etc.) chronicles scientists’ long search for the specific cause—which involved much digging up of corpses and experiments with diseased tissue. Despite some recent breakthroughs, that search still continues for, as the author points out, though the 1976 scare turned out to be a false alarm and we are better prepared now than in 1918, new flu strains appear frequently, and we are all still potential sitting ducks for a deadly one. Period photos are interspersed with solemn, impressionistic art from McCarthy; an accessible bibliography will give a leg up to readers who want to know more. Combining cogent accounts both of a worldwide tragedy and some classic medical detective work, this is certain to please and to sober a wide audience. (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 2000
ISBN: 0-8050-5751-X
Page count: 86pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2000


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