Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It

Front Cover
Touchstone, Jan 9, 2001 - History - 352 pages
144 Reviews
A national bestseller, the fast-paced and gripping account of the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 from acclaimed science journalist Gina Kolata, now featuring a new epilogue about avian flu.

When we think of plagues, we think of AIDS, Ebola, anthrax spores, and, of course, the Black Death. But in 1918 the Great Flu Epidemic killed an estimated forty million people virtually overnight. If such a plague returned today, taking a comparable percentage of the US population with it, 1.5 million Americans would die.

In Flu, Gina Kolata, an acclaimed reporter for The New York Times, unravels the mystery of this lethal virus with the high drama of a great adventure story. From Alaska to Norway, from the streets of Hong Kong to the corridors of the White House, Kolata tracks the race to recover the live pathogen and probes the fear that has impelled government policy.

A gripping work of science writing, Flu addresses the prospects for a great epidemic’s recurrence and considers what can be done to prevent it.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Fascinating, terrifying and educational. - Goodreads
A little hard to read - the author does ramble on. - Goodreads
Gina Kolata is a very good writer. - Goodreads
Great, great writer. - Goodreads
Kolata is an excellent writer, the story has the tw - Goodreads
Perhaps I should have been a research scientist. - Goodreads
User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Reviewed Dec 2003 ~ purchased for $1 from the book fair
An interesting history of the flu and other epidemics. It almost reads like a mystery but actually is a historical look at the flu. This is
especially interesting to read because I have the flu right now, and the news this week is flooded with discussions of deaths from the flu. What surprised me the most is how many people die each year (30-50K). the 1918 flu killed 40 million world wide, almost impossible to imagine.
The other think that surprised me is to realize that the flu deals with the lungs and not nausea (that would be the stomach flu). I never knew that fever, chill, coughing and headaches are flu not cold symptoms.
At points the book is technical (over my head) and sometimes confusing jumping back and forth between various people in time and place. Very well documented Kolata uses full names/dates/places to back up everything she says. This book would be useful for school projects as well as those interested in history.
My grievance lies in that there is so much info that a 2nd or 3rd read is needed. Also I am still not sure if scientists have come to a conclusion about the 1918 virus.

Review: Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus that Caused It

User Review  - Amy - Goodreads

Ugh, I couldn't finish it. I really wanted to learn more about the 1918 flu pandemic, but it just jumped all over the place and gave me too much information that I didn't think was relevant at all ... Read full review


The Plague Year
A History of Disease and Death
From Sailors to Swine

10 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2001)

Gina Kolata is a science reporter for The New York Times and the author of Clone: The Road to Dolly and Sex in America. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Bibliographic information