“Monumental… powerfully intelligent… unflinching… Barry’s book is not just a masterful narrative of events of 1918 but also an authoritative and disturbing morality tale of science, politics, and culture… One of the strengths is that it goes well beyond medical facts and figures… a sweeping style that consistently focuses on real human beings… Barry has done a remarkable service in writing The Great Influenza.”
The Charlotte Observer:
“Sometimes the book reads like a detective novel; other times it reads like science fiction… A fascinating and frightening account of sickness, fear, stupidity, scientific exploration, and occasional heroism… If this book were merely about the causes and effects of the 1918 influenza pandemic, it would be an engrossing tale, but the story encompasses much more. Ultimately, Barry brings his narrative into the present with provocative implications.”
Journal of the American Medical Association:
“Here is a writer of distinction with a deep philosophical underpinning… I loved the range of this book, how it gives us so much more than its title… compelling and brilliant.”
The Seattle Times:
“Immensely readable… and as a piece of social history, invaluable. It shows the courage and cowardice of individuals under great pressure; it shows how institutions, captive to the ethics of the time, can rise to the occasion or abjectly fall… It’s a lesson to ponder in our times.”
The New York Review of Books:
“Magisterial… evocative… unusual literary panache… impressively up-to-date understanding… very artfully constructed… His message for our time is clear.”
“An enthralling symphony of a book, whose every page enthralls.”
“Terrifying… The lessons of 1918 couldn’t be more relevant.”
American Society of Microbiology:
“Barry provides enormous insight into the very nature of science… The Great Influenza is a must read for its unnerving relevance to today’s scientific challenges of emerging and reemerging diseases and the society’s tragic confrontations with war and terrorism… alarming similarities to today… gripping.”
The New York Times:
“Gripping… Easily our fullest, richest, most panoramic history of the subject.”
We have received notification from several of our friends in the Pacific Northwest area of the USA that a text message, coming from an anonymous source, has landed on several people’s mobile phones. The following is the text of that message. It’s a little more newagey than we would prefer, but as they say:
An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans: Stop. Just stop. It is no longer a request. It is a mandate. We will help you. We will bring the supersonic, high-speed merry-go-round to a halt We will stop the planes the trains the schools the malls the meetings the frenetic, hurried rush of illusions and "obligations" that keep you from hearing our single and shared beating heart, the way we breathe together, in unison. Our obligation is to each other, As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten. We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions, to bring you this long-breaking news: We are not well. None of us; all of us are suffering. Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth did not give you pause. Nor the typhoons in Africa, China, Japan. Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India. You have not been listening. It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives. But the foundation is giving way, buckling under the weight of your needs and desires. We will help you. We will bring the firestorms to your body We will bring the fever to your body We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs that you might hear: We are not well. Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy. We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force. We are asking you: To stop, to be still, to listen; To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all; To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart; To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy? To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy? Many are afraid now. Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you -- in your stillness, listen for its wisdom. What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness? As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about the quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you? Stop. Notice if you are resisting. Notice what you are resisting. Ask why. Stop. Just stop. Be still. Listen. Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well. We will help you if you listen.
It’s like we’ve been saying around here for years; No more humans, no more problem.
“I think there are some big-picture lessons here that could be very useful,” one scientist said.
In Venice, the often murky canals recently began to get clearer, with fish visible in the water below. Italy’s efforts to limit the coronavirus meant an absence of boat traffic in the city’s famous waterways. And the changes happened quickly.
Countries that have been under stringent lockdowns to stop the spread of the coronavirus have experienced an unintended benefit. The outbreak has, at least in part, contributed to a noticeable drop in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in some nations.
Though grim, it’s something that scientists said could offer tough lessons for how to prepare — and ideally avoid — the most destructive impacts of climate change.