Long on death, short on depth.



A general overview of the flu pandemic of 1918.

While World War I was raging, a particularly virulent influenza began to strike civilians and soldiers alike. No one knew, at first, that a virus caused the disease, and it spread rapidly and apparently randomly—a fact underscored by Brown’s (The Unwanted, 2018, etc.) use of statistics regarding mortality rates and the pace of infection from locations around the globe. One of the more confusing aspects of this flu was that it seemed to strike the healthy and young rather than the old and infirm. But this information, along with other facts—e.g. why black American nurses were not allowed to serve overseas—is not explored further. Also not explored, frustratingly, is what made this particular flu so deadly. The story emphasizes the important work of nurses as well as the complete ineffectiveness of health officials and civic leaders in combating the disease and preventing its spread, but it doesn’t delve beneath the surface. Brown’s illustrations, done in a sketchy style with a muted palette, are clear but lack vigor. The majority of people portrayed are white, and characters of power and interest are mainly white men, but this white male default as a Western society norm is not challenged. The term “colored” is modified with “sic” but is not contextualized.

Long on death, short on depth. (source notes, bibliography) (Graphic history. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-358-16851-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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