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The Spanish Flu Epidemic and its Influence on History (ePub)

WWI P&S History Social History 1918

By Jaime Breitnauer
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 7.4 MB (.epub)
Pages: 136
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526745187
eBook Released: 18th February 2020


£4.99 Print price £19.99

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On the second Monday of March 1918, the world changed forever. What seemed like a harmless cold morphed into a global pandemic that would wipe out as many as a hundred-million people – ten times as many as the Great War. German troops faltered lending the allies the winning advantage, India turned its sights to independence while South Africa turned to God. In Western Samoa a quarter of the population died; in some parts of Alaska, whole villages were wiped out. Civil unrest sparked by influenza shaped nations and heralded a new era of public health where people were no longer blamed for contracting disease. Using real case histories, we take a journey through the world in 1918, and look at the impact of Spanish flu on populations from America, to France, to the Arctic, and the scientific legacy this deadly virus has left behind.

As featured on Lost Cousins

Lost Cousins

This book is very timely, not just in being written for the centenary of the Spanish Flu Pandemic but in coinciding with the Chinese Wuhan 19 Pandemic. The author has provided a detailed review of the Spanish Flu, with its impact on war and society, and the many unanswered questions. – Most Highly Recommended.

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It is exceptionally well written to the point I would call it a page turner – it gives the facts without sounding overly academic or pretentious – and let me tell you, it’s made me want to learn more about the Spanish Flu pandemic. More – I’m not sure I would say it’s negative – it has made me think a lot more about our current predicament, the mistakes that have been made and continue to be made. The second wave of the Spanish Flu was far more virulent and it honestly has me wondering whether we will end up experiencing the same with the current Covid-19 crisis.

A great read and highly recommended.

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The Borgia Bull

Honestly, this is a really good introduction to the Spanish Flu pandemic and its ongoing influence. I could tell the author has a history background and a journalism background too. She made the book very easy to read and the use of real people examples really brought the events of those years to life.

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Rosemarie Cawkwell, Blogger

Here's one for those of you worrying about the coronavirus. This is an excellent little book about the Spanish Flu Epidemic after World War One, a subject I hadn’t really visited since the days of university. The book looks at various different ‘causes’ or reasons for the epidemic because at the end of the day, nobody really knows anyone major reason for why it happened. But it is likely to be a number of reasons, some of which are explained in this book by Jamie Breitnauer. The book looks at the effects of WWI, the large scale movement of soldiers around the world, the trade between varying nations, and immunity etc. The book is very well written and the points of argument are excellent. The author has written well in the various points and allows the reader to come up with their own opinions. The book also has excellent notes, and bibliography at the back to enable further reading. An excellent book very well written.

UK Historian

The Spanish Flu was a devastating epidemic that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people all across the world. With so many people falling ill at the same time in different countries, it's impossible to know where this sickness started. In the midst of WWI, the countries at war couldn't admit they were affected, or risk appearing weak to their enemies.

With personal stories that tug at your heartstrings, the author paints a picture of a world, already ravaged by war, taken down by a mysterious virus affecting soldiers and civilians and making the war even harder to fight. This book is a must for anyone studying the First World War, or the spread of sicknesses, or anything related.

Lillian Bailey

I remember reading that more people died as a result of contracting Spanish 'flu than died in the Great War. Jaime Breitnauer puts the whole thing into perspective with a fascinating account of the origin and extent of the outbreak, at a time when people were returning from the conflict expecting a brave new world and instead confronting one of the deadliest epidemics ever to hit mankind.

Books Monthly

This volume is well-written and intentioned... this volume may be of interest to Sociologists and Historians of various persuasions. Readers with an interest in unusual ‘Medical’ events might also find it of interest, as might those with an interest in their national histories and the impact that the ‘Flu had on their countries.

Keith Rimmer, NZ Crown Mines

A book that deserves to be read for its powerful emotional charge, especially in a world like ours, even "smaller" (and therefore more open to the dangers of contagion) than that of our 1919 predecessors'.

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Old Barbed Wire Blog

Reviewing this book as the Coronavirus is making its way around the world is a sobering exercise. Timing being everything in life, it is a book that needs to be read to really understand the modern context of such outbreaks. In most respects the modern outbreaks share with the Spanish flu the relatively easy transmission through travel. The world in 1918 was one mighty supply chain servicing the Great War for Civilisation and consequently influenza found its way to all corners through that route. Today we see lessons learnt; flights suspended, cities in lock down and much concentration on finding a form of medication to fight it. The latter was not available in 1918 but the advance in science may find it. This book uses examples of survivors and the succumbed to explain how the 1918 pandemic grew, developed, infected and killed arguably 100 million people. A shocking insight into Spanish Flu but a very good read.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Jaime Breitnauer

J. S. Breitnauer is a British born writer and editor who divides her time between the UK and New Zealand. A graduate in History and Sociology, and holder of an MA in Culture, Class and Power in Europe from 1850, both from the University of Warwick, Breitnauer has a particular interest in twentieth century history and the effects of disease and war on society.


Breitnauer has worked as a journalist and editor since 2003, contributing to a wide variety of newspapers, magazines and journals in the UK, New Zealand and the UAE, as well as contributing chapters to two Lonely Planet guides and parenting title Is it Bedtime Yet?. She has also worked for the Anne Frank Trust UK and The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand. In her writing, Breitnauer likes to focus on individual stories that add a personal dynamic to historical fact, to step into the shoes of those who were there, and experience a moment of their lives.

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