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Pandemic 1918

The Story of the Deadliest Influenza in History

Extent: 368pages

Size: 234x153mm

Publication Date:

Price: £20.00

ISBN: 9781782438083

Categories: Science - History - Philosophy

Publication Date: 11/01/2018

Price: £9.99

ISBN: 9781782438106

Categories: Science - History - Philosophy

About the Book

In the dying months of World War I, Spanish flu suddenly overwhelmed the world, killing between 50 and 100 million people.

German soldiers termed it Blitzkatarrh, British soldiers called it Flanders Grippe, but globally the pandemic gained the notorious title of ‘Spanish Flu’.

Nowhere escaped this common enemy: in Britain, 250,000 people died, in the United States it was 750,000, five times its total military fatalities in the war, while European deaths reached over two million. The numbers are staggering. And yet at the time, news of the danger was suppressed for fear of impacting war-time morale. Even today these figures are shocking to many – the war still hiding this terrifying menace in its shadow.

And behind the numbers are human lives, stories of those who suffered and fought it – in the hospitals and laboratories. Catharine Arnold traces the course of the disease, its origins and progress, across the globe via these remarkable people. Some are well known to us, like British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, US President Woodrow Wilson, and writers Robert Graves and Vera Brittain, but many more are unknown. They are the doughboys from the US, gold miners in South Africa, schoolgirls in Great Britain and many others.

Published 100 years after the most devastating pandemic in world history, Pandemic 1918 uses previously unpublished records, memoirs, diaries and government publications to uncover the human story of 1918.

About the Author

Catharine Arnold is the author of the much-acclaimed London quartet, a series about the dark side of the capital, consisting of Necropolis, London and its Dead, Bedlam, London and its Mad, City of Sin, London and its Vices and Underworld, London City of Crime and Punishment. Her first novel, Lost Time, won a Betty Trask Award. Catharine read English at the University of Cambridge and holds a further degree in psychology. She is a popular TV presenter and speaker.


  • 'Fascinating... lurid and pacy... the page-turning fascination of a detective thriller', BBC History Magazine
  • 'Catharine Arnold has done a remarkable job of relating the tales of a diverse set of sufferers, crafting an arresting and intimate narrative of the 1918 pandemic... a gripping tale that swoops down into the grisly detail, then soars up to give a broad view over the landscape of this calamitous moment in human history... Arnold writes beautifully, and starkly, of the tragedy that unfolded', New Statesman
  • 'Arnold's pacey history focuses on the stories of the individual, from scientists and politicians to the ordinary men and women who suffered', History Revealed
  • 'this timely study prompts us to reflect with gratitude on the advances of modern medicine', The Lady
  • 'Catharine Arnold's book offers us a coherent, well-researched and sanitary reminder that another pandemic could be just around the corner with equally horrific consequences.', Sir Tony Robinson
  • 'A lively catalogue of events and key figures in the course of the pandemic... what captivates most are the accounts of witnesses and survivors... it is often easy to forget about those left behind, but Arnold has given them a voice', The Lancet
  • 'Meticulously researched . . . vividly conveys the terror of the disease.', Professor Sheena Cruickshank, FRSA
  • 'Catharine Arnold is a master storyteller. I couldn't put it down', Lindsey Fitzharris