Influenza - The Hundred Year Hunt to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History


“In “Influenza,” [Brown] builds effectively on his clinical and scientific career, making the virus itself central to his story… Although his story is a somber one, Dr. Brown’s account is punctuated by some humor and much avuncular advice… [Brown’s book] highlights that influenza is still a real and present threat and demonstrates the power and limitations of modern medicine.”

The Sydney Morning Herald

Brown's book is like an Agatha Christie novel, or a cold-case episode of some television drama. The crime has already been committed – in this case, a century ago – but the villain is still on the loose, still committing crimes, and somehow managing to evade the plods.

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Science News

“An in-depth look at what scientists know now about the 1918 strain [and] a fascinating look at the factors that make the more common seasonal flu so challenging to predict and prevent… For those who want more science with a frank discussion of the challenges influenza still poses, Brown delivers a clear and captivating overview.



We should not underestimate influenza as a serial killer, notes physician Jeremy Brown in this agile study. Brown — director of emergency-care research at the US National Institutes of Health — illuminates much... A thoughtful portrait of an elusive enemy.”

shelf awareness

…an accessible, straightforward and often riveting history of this seasonal menace.... brisk, entertaining and written with an endearing zeal….Influenza is layperson-friendly; Brown's explanations of virology and epidemiology are clearly meant to reach a wide audience of readers.

"Part history lesson, part investigative report and part public service announcement, Influenza shows us how far we've come since 1918--and how far we have to go

starred booklist review

The influenza pandemic of 1918 was responsible for an estimated 50–100 million deaths worldwide. A century later, ‘The flu is still a serial killer,’ writes emergency-medicine physician Brown... Brown smartly examines this viral infection from all sorts of angles—medical history, virology, diagnosis and treatment, economics and epidemiology‚ health-care policy, and prevention.

Scientific American Recommended Book

…Although we know a lot more about the virus today, which kills 30,000 people in the U.S. annually, we do not know enough to stop the next pandemic. Brown argues that a critical preparatory step should be to place the 1918 pandemic in our collective memory as we have for wars and battles—perhaps with a physical memorial—to honor our losses and to remind us how much there is yet to do.