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American pandemic : the lost worlds of the 1918 influenza epidemic

by Bristow, Nancy K., 1958-

Format: Print Book 2012
Availability: Unavailable 0 of 3 copies
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CLP - Main Library Second Floor - Non-fiction CHECKED OUT
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Second Floor - Non-fiction
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Location  Mt. Lebanon Public Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
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Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Between the years 1918 and1920, influenza raged around the globe in the worst pandemic in recorded history, killing at least fifty million people, more than half a million of them Americans. Yet despite the devastation, this catastrophic event seems but a forgotten moment in the United States.

American Pandemic offers a much-needed corrective to the silence surrounding the influenza outbreak. It sheds light on the social and cultural history of Americans during the pandemic, uncovering both the causes of the nation's public amnesia and the depth of the quiet remembering that endured. Focused on the primary players in this drama--patients and their families, friends, and community, public health experts, and health care professionals--historian Nancy K. Bristow draws on multiple perspectives to highlight the complex interplay between social identity, cultural norms, memory, and the epidemic. Bristow has combed a wealth of primary sources, including letters, diaries, oral histories, memoirs, novels, newspapers, magazines, photographs, government documents, and health care literature. She shows that though the pandemic caused massive disruption in the most basic patterns of American life, influenza did not create long-term social or cultural change, serving instead to reinforce the status quo and the differences and disparities that defined American life.

As the crisis waned the pandemic slipped from the nation's public memory. The helplessness and despair Americans had suffered during the pandemic, Bristow notes, was a story poorly suited to a nation focused on optimism and progress. For countless survivors, though, the trauma never ended, shadowing the remainder of their lives with memories of loss. This book lets us hear these long-silent voices, reclaiming an important chapter in the American past.
Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "The memories of the worst pandemic ever are all but lost. In a richly researched work that gives sobering context and voice to a flu that killed 675,000 Americans and 50 million worldwide in 1918-1919, University of Puget Sound history professor Bristow dispels the "costly amnesia" that followed the devastation. She notes how scientists were overconfident of their ability to control the flu, buoyed by the discovery of microbes responsible for a stunning list of deadly diseases. Bristow also describes the harrowing symptoms of the virulent flu and relates the heartbreaking stories of individuals raked by the disease, including the high proportion of young adults (usually the very young and old are most at risk) whose lungs filled like those "of the drowned." And though poor and rich alike died, Bristow finds how differently the public judged "deserving" and "undeserving" victims. She also writes of the daunting public health task of stanching the flu's spread-from mandated school closures to the wearing of face masks in public and the public's frustration with, and resistance to, them. This enlightening history lifts the curtain on a remarkable period of destruction and endurance-and reminds us that those who forget history are condemned to relive it. Photos.(May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Influenza -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Epidemics -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Publisher New York :2012
Language English
Description xiii, 280 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 9780199811342
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