Flu. By Gina Kolata. New York, NY: Touchstone. 1999. pp. 1 to 306.
As is summarized on the front cover of the book, Flu by Gina Kolata is a book describing the “Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918”. The book starts out with a quote from a molecular pathologist that definitely grabs the reader’s attention. Kolata continues throughout the first chapter describing the virus as a notorious and mysterious murderer, turning the masses into victims. Kolata’s writing style is very interesting; she seems to be able to turn boring science facts into terminology that is easy enough for the “average joe” to comprehend. Gina Kolata is not only a well- known reporter for the New York Times, she has a few qualifications that make her the perfect author for this book. In the prologue, Kolata explains that she majored in microbiology in college and even took a course in virology. It is interesting that she picked the topic of the 1918 outbreak of the flu to write a book about since she claimed no teacher or course discussed it throughout her studies.
An interesting characteristic of Kolata’s writing style is how she refers to the pandemic in different ways. In one example she mentions that it was similar to the biblical plagues that were brought on the people and she was pretty accurate with that analogy. Kolata does a good job on clarifying the significance of the so called plague. She writes of how it killed millions in just a year’s time and also how it affected the victims’ families then and now. It is clear to see why she thinks the topic should be discussed more because it was certainly a time of hardship in our country’s history.
A reader can easily be pulled into the stories of how everyone was reacting to the widespread pandemic. Kolata reveals the heartless reactions by the government in a way that makes the reader feel like they are reading a fiction book instead of a factual book. She tells the story from a normal person’s point of view not the microbiology...
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