Facts, quotes, anecdotes, and visual images tell the combined history of the 1918 flu epidemic and World War I, emphasizing the role of disease in changing history.
The introduction and nine chapters open with apt quotes, usually followed by a personal story, such as one in which a 16-year-old Walt Disney contracts the flu during Red Cross training. Statistics underscore the power of the epidemic, in which 100 million may have died worldwide. The ties between the war and the epidemic are made clear throughout. The first case was reported in an army camp in Kansas. Troops spread the disease around the U.S. and brought it to Europe, where it killed combatants on both sides of the war. Civilians caught it at schools and parades, and with no cure available, it was devastating. Although most of the medical, political, and military figures introduced are white males, brief sections discuss racism and the flu, relating stories about Native Alaskans on the Seward Peninsula and an Ogala family in Nebraska. Adequate black-and-white photographs break up the text every few pages. The smooth narrative excels at connecting the epidemic and the war but assumes a modicum of background knowledge about the war and occasionally suffers from repetitiveness. A 40-page appendix reviews the role of disease in history.
Readable and informative. (notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)