Fever of War: The Influenza Epidemic in the U.S. Army During World War I (Google eBook)

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NYU Press, 2005 - History - 251 pages
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The influenza epidemic of 1918 killed more people in one year than the Great War killed in four, sickening at least one quarter of the world's population. In Fever of War, Carol R. Byerly uncovers the startling impact of the 1918 influenza epidemic on the American army, its medical officers, and their profession, a story which has long been silenced. Through medical officers' memoirs and diaries, official reports, scientific articles, and other original sources, Byerly tells a grave tale about the limits of modern medicine and warfare.

The tragedy begins with overly confident medical officers who, armed with new knowledge and technologies of modern medicine, had an inflated sense of their ability to control disease. The conditions of trench warfare on the Western Front soon outflanked medical knowledge by creating an environment where the influenza virus could mutate to a lethal strain. This new flu virus soon left medical officers' confidence in tatters as thousands of soldiers and trainees died under their care. They also were unable to convince the War Department to reduce the crowding of troops aboard ships and in barracks which were providing ideal environments for the epidemic to thrive. After the war, and given their helplessness to control influenza, many medical officers and military leaders began to downplay the epidemic as a significant event for the U. S. army, in effect erasing this dramatic story from the American historical memory.

  

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User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

A significant little monograph that seeks to emphasize the impact of the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918 on the U.S. Army, an event that the author suggests has been greatly downgraded, if only ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
4
Medical Heroes Medical Officers Confidence as They Prepare for War
14
Building a Healthy Army Government Control and Accountability
39
WorstCase Scenario The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 in the Camps
69
Fighting Germs and Germans Influenza in the American Expeditionary Forces
97
Postmortem The Trauma of Failure 19181919
125
Except for the Flu Writing the History of the Epidemic
153
Memory and the Politics of Disease and War
181
Notes
191
Select Bibliography
227
Index
237
About the Author
251
Copyright

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Page 13 - No more war, no more plague, only the dazed silence that follows the ceasing of the heavy guns; noiseless houses with the shades drawn, empty streets, the dead cold light of tomorrow. Now there would be time for everything.
Page 20 - Public health is purchasable; within natural limitations a community can determine its own death rate.

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About the author (2005)

Carol R. Byerly has worked for the United States Congress and the American Red Cross. She now teaches history at the University of Colorado and is a research scholar of military medical history for the Office of the Surgeon General of the United States Army.

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