Call Number
Material Type
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 614.518 D257 Adult NonFiction Book

On Order



A gripping account of the 1918 flu pandemic and the modern-day hunt for this elusive and deadly virus

In 1918, a flu virus more lethal than any that has come along since swept through the world, from the remotest villages in Arctic climates to crowded U.S.cities to the battlefields of Europe, killing forty million people. Yet, despite its devastating toll and the probability that other deadly pandemics await on the horizon, it was relegated to a footnote in history. The Devil's Flu is the extraordinary story of 1918's forgotten tragedy and of the global scientific community's effort to avert another such disaster.

The 1918 flu still so intrigues and frightens experts in the field that in 1998, a group of respected scientists journeyed to the Norwegian Arctic Circle in search of the mysterious killer. In The Devil's Flu , Davies captures the excitement of the hunt and the intense rivalries within the scientific community, and paints a vivid portrait of the eccentric scientists bent on capturing the prize information that could hold the key to our future safety. And as far as the next pandemic is concerned, scientists agree: it's not a question of if, but when.

Author Notes

Pete Davies is the author of a number of critically acclaimed best-selling works of nonfiction published in the United Kingdom, as well as the forthcoming book "Inside the Hurricane." He lives in West Yorkshire, England.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Davies' book, published in Britain last year as Catching Cold, doesn't mention Gina Kolata's Flu [BKL N 1 99], though it covers much of the same ground, albeit differently. Davies devotes substantial space to Kirsty Duncan's expedition to Spitsbergen in 1998 to dig up the coffins of seven miners, victims of the 1918 flu, to see whether the virus was still present in them. Davies was on hand for much of the subsequent scientific failure and stonewalling. His descriptions of Duncan, John Oxford, and the other expedition members enliven his book in a way that Kolata's later interviews in the U.S. and Europe don't quite match. Both authors cover the swine flu debacle in 1976, the 1998 Hong Kong flu, and such major players as Taubenberger, Hultin, Webster, and Laver. Both discuss work on vaccines and the possibilities of a successful one, and both agree that another flu pandemic is in the wings. Given the fame of their topic, many libraries will have no trouble accommodating both books. --William Beatty

Library Journal Review

Originally published in England in 1999 as Catching Cold, this edition has the bad luck of competing with two similar American publications, Lynette Iezzoni's Influenza 1918: The Worst Epidemic in American History (LJ 6/15/99) and Gina Kolata's Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It (LJ 11/15/99). Davies, who has written on subjects as diverse as hurricanes, British politics, and soccer, here covers much the same territory as Kolata. He recounts the horrors of the worldwide 1918 epidemic; the efforts at identifying the virus strain, which led to the exhumation of long-frozen corpses in Alaska and Norway; and the 1997 outbreak of a deadly flu mutation in Hong Kong in which 1.6 million chickens and other birds were sacrificed to avert what seemed to be an emerging epidemic. Although Davies writes with the flair of a talented journalist, Kolata, science reporter for the New York Times, is more authoritative, while Iezzoni focuses primarily on the American influenza story. Libraries that have purchased Kolata's book will find The Devil's Flu an optional purchase.ÄKathy Arsenault, Univ. of South Florida, St. Petersburg (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. ix
1 The Incident in Hong Kongp. 1
2 Some New Kind of Plaguep. 39
3 On the Edge of Lifep. 65
4 The Frozen Coastp. 104
5 Stressed to the Maxp. 134
6 Respect and Dignityp. 157
7 The Language of Lifep. 194
8 $3,000 and a Shovelp. 224
9 Marvellously Humiliatingp. 250
10 Plug Drugsp. 274
Further Readingp. 305

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