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Not to be sniffed at

Pandemic influenza is the greatest public health threat our society faces. Yet we're barely aware of the history of the great pandemic of 1918—which is why this new account is especially timely

By Tony Barnett   February 2009

Living with Enza: the forgotten story of Britain and the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 by Mark Honigsbaum (Macmillan, £15.99)

The question of forgetting lies at the heart of Mark Honigsbaum’s Living with Enza. Both my parents were teenagers in 1918-19. Neither of them ever mentioned the great global pandemic of influenza, which killed 228,000 Britons and at least 50m people during those years, on every inhabited continent. Why did they, and so many of their contemporaries, put it out of mind? Perhaps the war-weary world could face no more mass death; perhaps bad things which take place over a…

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