Download Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World Audiobook

Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World Audiobook, by Laura Spinney Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Laura Spinney Narrator: Paul Hodgson Publisher: PublicAffairs Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2017 ISBN: 9781478989295
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In 1918, the Italian-Americans of New York, the Yupik of Alaska, and the Persians of Mashed had almost nothing in common except for a virus—one that triggered the worst pandemic of modern times and had a decisive effect on the history of the twentieth century.

The Spanish flu of 1918-1920 was one of the greatest human disasters of all time. It infected a third of the people on Earth—from the poorest immigrants of New York City to the king of Spain, Franz Kafka, Mahatma Gandhi, and Woodrow Wilson. But despite a death toll of between 50 and 100 million people, it exists in our memory as an afterthought to World War I.

In this gripping narrative history, Laura Spinney traces the overlooked pandemic to reveal how the virus travelled across the globe, exposing mankind’s vulnerability and putting our ingenuity to the test. As socially significant as both world wars, the Spanish flu dramatically disrupted—and often permanently altered—global politics, race relations and family structures, while spurring innovation in medicine, religion, and the arts. It was partly responsible, Spinney argues, for pushing India to independence, South Africa to apartheid, and Switzerland to the brink of civil war. It also created the true “lost generation.”

Drawing on the latest research in history, virology, epidemiology, psychology, and economics, Pale Rider masterfully recounts the little-known catastrophe that forever changed humanity.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Set against the devastating backdrop of global contagion, it is individual lives and deaths, discovered in letters, diaries, biographies and memoirs, that epitomize this rich account.”


  • “Reveals how desperately and differently people reacted and how gravely the flu influenced the modern world, touching everything from medicine to business and from politics to poetry.”


  • “This riveting study plots the course of the deadliest pandemic in history.”

    Sunday Times (London)

  • “Ms. Spinney ties the virulence of Spanish flu to its genetic irregularities and does a good job of explaining containment strategies through epidemiology.”

    Economist (London)

  • Pale Rider contains vivid journalistic accounts of outbreaks around the world, from the US to China, India, and Persia…Insightful.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A compelling, expert account of a half-forgotten historical catastrophe.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Library Journal bestseller in science history
  • The Strategist Pick of Indie Bookstore Bestsellers

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 dre | 4/28/2020

    " Ms. Spinney presents a concise account of the Spanish Flue (1917 – 1920). This pandemic event is well documented; especially the consequent social upheaval. Pale Rider explores, with sufficient detail, the interrelationship of this virus and WW 1. In addition, she explains, in lay language, the development of germ theory, traditional “folk” remedies to a pestilence and the simultaneous growth of numerical science / vital statistics and public health. A good primer that “aids” understanding the Coronavirus. "

About the Author

Laura Spinney is a science journalist and a literary novelist. She has published two novels in English, and her writing on science has appeared in National Geographic, Nature, the Economist, and the London Telegraph, among others. Her oral history portrait of a European city, Rue Centrale, was published in 2013 in French and English.

About the Narrator

Paul Hodgson holds a BA in English language and literature from Durham University in England and an MFA in performance from Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Wales. An accomplished audiobook narrator and voice artist, he is also a freelance writer with a regular column in Responsible Investor and Fortune. He lives in Maine.