The Great Influenza By John M. Barry

884 Words4 Pages
The book “The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, written by John M. Barry, covers the progression of the Spanish influenza, especially in the United States. Barry focuses not only on the influenza itself, though, but also on the social influences that allowed the virus to flourish. The book covers how medical practices in the United States had risen up just in time to combat the virus, but, due to societal issues and the war, the doctors struggled in areas where they should have been successful. Although medicine today is comparatively more advanced, that is a more recent change than one would like to think. For instance, not even 150 years ago, “Hippocrates and Galen would have recognized and largely agreed with most medical practices.” Barry addresses this topic of medical advancement at the beginning of his book by producing a well researched, albeit a little too long, history of western medicine. He provides examples of how medicine evolved from the teachings of Hippocrates, Galen, and Vesalius to a more “modern” form of medicine. This was done in order to explain how prepared the medical community was in the face of this impending virus. Unlike the other epidemics, the people of the early 19-century should have been prepared to face the influenza with all of their exciting and new medical equipment and practices, but there was something in their way of advancement—universities. While this new group of medical “warriors,” as
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