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The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 appeared suddenly at the end of the First World War and with explosive impact took the lives of at least 30 million people worldwide. Spreading rapidly across the globe, it defied all previous understandings of the disease, striking the youngest and healthiest individuals most acutely and confounding the doctors and governments who struggled to contain it. In this volume, Susan Kingsley Kent presents an overview of the disease, detailing its symptoms, tracking its spread, and offering insights into the medical community's understanding of and reaction to the pandemic. Documents from period newspapers, medical journals, and government publications, as well as letters, journal entries, memoirs, and novels written by survivors and medical staff, provide a variety of perspectives from six continents and illuminate the impact of the pandemic — from the lives of children orphaned by the flu to colonial rebellions for which the pandemic served as a major catalyst. Document headnotes, maps and illustrations, a chronology, questions for consideration, a selected bibliography, and an index enrich students' understanding.
Susan Kingsley Kent (Ph.D., Brandeis University) is professor of history at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Specializing in British history, her scholarly works focus on gender, politics, empire, and the Great War. She is the author of Gender and History; Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931; Gender and Power in Britain, 1660-1990; Making Peace: The Reconstruction of Gender in Interwar Britain; Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914; The History of Western Civilization since 1500: An Ecological Approach; and, with Misty L. Bastian and Marc Matera, The Women's War of 1929: Gender and Violence in Colonial Nigeria.