Influenza by Jeremy Brown
& Schuster: 12/18/18
eBook review copy; 272 pages
Influenza: The Hundred Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease
in History by Jeremy Brown is a very highly recommended, fascinating exploration of the history of the flu virus and the search for a cure.
The 1918 Flu pandemic left
an estimated 50 to 100 million people dead worldwide. Ever since
then the search has been on to find a cure before the outbreak another
world wide influenza pandemic. Brown discusses where the 1918 flu may
have started (we don't know for certain) and the various cures that have
been tried over the years. Now we know influenza is a virus and that
virus mutates into other strains of the flu, making a cure even more
challenging. In a conversational style, Dr.
Jeremy Brown, currently Director of Emergency Care Research at the
National Institutes of Health, shares information from leading
makers, and the researcher who first sequenced the genetic building
blocks of the original 1918 virus.
He doesn't shy away from the many questions and misinformation
swirling around vaccinations, anti-viral drugs, and government
preparation for the next epidemic. He also tackles the media's role in
exaggeration and swaying public opinion through emotion, anxiety, and
misinformation, as well as the more recent role of social media outbreak
spreading misinformation, exaggeration, and fear faster than the actual
flu virus was spreading. He also discusses the pharmaceutical companies
influence and their lobbying efforts, which are largely based on fear.
Deaths from the flu do occur every year and there are groups of the
population that are more susceptible, but this does not include
everyone. Dr. Brown points out several different public panics over
influenza outbreaks (which I clearly remember), and how the actual
outbreak was not as huge as the fear spread through the media.
Additionally, information people hear on the news, whether it is correct
or fact-based or not, makes people and policy makers start quoting and
spreading the misinformation.
This is an eminently well-written and engrossing examination of the
history and current information about the influenza virus. The
conversational writing style and the logical organization of the book
make the information easily understood and assimilated, even for those
readers who typically shun medical/historical nonfiction. As is my wont
for informational nonfiction selections, I always appreciated the
inclusion of notes, a complete bibliography, and an index.
My review copy was courtesy of Simon