Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World

Title:Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World
ISBN:9781910702376
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:352 pages

With a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people and a global reach, the Spanish flu of 1918–1920 was the greatest human disaster, not only of the twentieth century, but possibly in all of recorded history. And yet, in our popular conception it exists largely as a footnote to World War I.

In Pale Rider, Laura Spinney recounts the story of an overlooked pandemic, tracing it from Alaska to Brazil, from Persia to Spain, and from South Africa to Odessa. Telling the story from the point of view of those who lived through it, she shows how the pandemic was shaped by the interaction of a virus and the humans it encountered; and how this devastating natural experiment put both the ingenuity and the vulnerability of humans to the test.

Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology, and economics, Laura Spinney narrates a catastrophe that changed humanity for decades to come, and continues to make itself felt today. In the process she demonstrates that the Spanish flu was as significant – if not more so – as two world wars in shaping the modern world; in disrupting, and often permanently altering, global politics, race relations, family structures, and thinking across medicine, religion and the arts.


    Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How it Changed the World Reviews

  • Paul Bryant

    This wasn’t the jolliest read, but heck, my friendly GR poppets, life is not all ha-ha-ha, hee-hee-hee. When she was around 11 or 12 I used to play a game with my daughter called WHO WOULD WIN? I’...

  • Andy

    Nerd addendum update (Jan. 2018): After my review below, the NY Times gave this book a favorable review as a science book and even made it an overall weekly "Editors' Choice." People can have differen...

  • Jeanette

    It's a 3.5 star book. It's a 4 star book up until about page 250. I would have given it a solid 4 if she had ended it there with some summation of her research. But from "Melancholy Muses" onward- it ...

  • Jennifer

    One of these days, I'm actually going to write a story about an epidemic that will justify all the reading I've done on the subject. But in the meantime, I just find it fascinating. This is one of the...

  • Siobhan Johnson

    I really enjoyed this! A very interesting and comprehensive study of an often overlooked period of history, the Spanish Flu of 1918(-1920, roughly), and how it impacted the world.I'll get the few prob...

  • Chris Steeden

    I don’t think I have had proper flu. You know the one where they say you feel so ill that you just cannot get out of bed. I have had flu-like symptoms for sure. Tiredness, aching all over, chill, fe...

  • Emma Sea

    The "how it changed the world" part was mostly around the development of germ theory, epidemiology, and public health. There was very, very little on lived experiences of the flu, and I don't think (?...

  • Joanne  Clarke Gunter

    Fascinating subject made boring by ponderous writing and an extreme reliance on speculation and anecdote. ...

  • K.

    Trigger warnings: pandemic, lots and lots and lots of death, mentions of war. I've been interested in this since it came out, so I was very excited to discover that my local library had a copy of it. ...

  • Cindy Leighton

    Horrified to learn that Donald Trump's family got their wealthy start from an insurance policy on his German immigrant grandfather who died from the flu, his widow and son investing his life insurance...