"Flu: The Story Of The Great Influenza Pandemic Of 1918"By Gina Kolata.

1919 words - 8 pages

A Critical Book ReviewofFlu:The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918And the Search for the Virus That Caused ItBy Gina KolataFarrar, Straus and Giroux19 Union Square West, New York 10003ISBN: 0-7838-9019-2*Note*The eBook version( ISBN: B000056WKX )was used for this paper.ForHistory 233Dr. Terry ChapmanMedicine Hat CollegeWinter, 2003Due: Thursday, April 3, 2003 - 8:00 a.m.Although some estimates run as high as 100 million, at least 40 million people worldwide were killed in the great influenza pandemic of 1918. In spite of the horrific death toll, the flu pandemic of 1918 is often overlooked. Why this is the case, is but one of the many questions that Gina Kolata, a science writer for the New York Times, tries to answer in Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999). This paper is a critical review of her book, and topics of discussion will be Kolata's background, the central theme of her book, how she supports her claims, her presentation, and her organization. As well, a brief discussion of what the book contributes to the reader's knowledge and understanding of the field will be included.Gina Bari Kolata (b.1948) is a science journalist who has been writing for The New York Times since 1988. She studied molecular biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Maryland. She is married, and has children. During an interview with Diane Rehm of WAMU 88.5 on November 17, 1999, Kolata speaks of how her whole family was fascinated by the 1918 flu pandemic. Kolata brings this personal feel with her to the book. Throughout, it is evident that writing it was a labor of love. She has gone to great lengths developing names into characters, and locations into 'real' places.Kolata tells her readers what the theme of her book is immediately in Chapter One with a quote from Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger. "This is a detective story. Here was a mass murderer that was around 80 years ago and who's never been brought to justice. And what we're trying to do is find the murderer." (P12) This is reinforced in the Diane Rehm interview of 1999 when Rehm says "Well, it seems to me what you've done is to go farther, you've written what seems to me something like a detective story, the kind that says this is what happened here and why did this happen here, and the clues begin to unfold..." (~6:00 into the interview) Kolata maintains this theme throughout her book, although she does get sidetracked with excessive, sometimes seemingly useless, details. Take the section about John Dalton, chemist, born 1776. (P223) Kolata takes two pages to describe Dalton's (incorrect) theory for color blindness; the relevance is difficult to ascertain, as it could have been just as effective to have left it out.To support her theme of a hunt for the virus, Kolata introduces he readers to people like Johan V. Hultin. In fact,...

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