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Influenza: The Quest to Cure the Deadliest Disease in History

Jeremy Brown

Dr Jeremy Brown, a veteran ER doctor, explores the troubling, terrifying, and complex history of the flu virus, from the surprising origins of the 1918 flu that killed millions, to vexing questions such as: are we prepared for the next epidemic, should you get a flu shot, and how close are we to finding a cure?

While influenza is now often thought of as a mild disease, it kills thousands each year. Dr Jeremy Brown, currently Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health, expounds on the flu’s deadly past to solve the mysteries that could protect us from the next outbreak.

In Influenza, he talks with leading epidemiologists, policy makers, and the researcher who first sequenced the genetic building blocks of the virus to offer both a comprehensive history and a roadmap for understanding what’s to come. Dr Brown digs into the discovery and resurrection of the flu virus in the victims of the 1918 epidemic exhumed from the tundra, as well as the bizarre remedies that once treated the disease, such as fatal doses of aspirin and blood-letting. Influenza also breaks down the current dialogue surrounding the disease, explaining the controversy over vaccinations, antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu, and the federal government’s role in preparing for a pandemic. Dr Brown warns that many of the most vital questions about the flu virus continue to confound even the leading experts.

Influenza is an enlightening and unnerving look at a shapeshifting deadly virus that has been around since long before people and will most likely be with us for a long time to come.


ABC Radio National, Late Night Live
Australian ($) ‘One thing Brown does make clear in this thorough, engaging analysis of influenza is that we can’t afford to ignore the lessons of the century-old pandemic.’
Guardian, The Long Read
Radio New Zealand
Sam Still Reading
Telegraph ($)

Jeremy Brown
About the Author

Dr Jeremy Brown trained at University College School of Medicine in London and completed his residency in emergency medicine in Boston. He was the Research Director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at George Washington University before moving to the National Institutes of Health, where he now directs its Office of Emergency Care...

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Text publication date:
8 January 2019
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Praise for Jeremy Brown

‘Brown’s book is like an Agatha Christie novel, or a cold-case episode of some television drama. The crime has already been committed – in this case, a century ago – but the villain is still on the loose, still committing crimes, and somehow managing to evade the plods.’

‘Brown smartly examines this viral infection from all sorts of angles – medical history, virology, diagnosis and treatment, economics and epidemiology‚ health-care policy, and prevention.’ (starred review)

‘In Influenza, [Brown] builds effectively on his clinical and scientific career, making the virus itself central to his story…Although his story is a somber one, Dr. Brown’s account is punctuated by some humor and much avuncular advice…[Brown’s book] highlights that influenza is still a real and present threat and demonstrates the power and limitations of modern medicine.’

‘Part science, part history, part politics and part expert advice, Influenza is exactly the book you want to read when you’re tucked in bed, feeling feverish.’

‘One thing Brown does make clear in this thorough, engaging analysis of influenza is that we can’t afford to ignore the lessons of the century-old pandemic.’

‘Who better to take you on a tour of this most implacable of human diseases than Dr Jeremy Brown, a veteran of the ER.’

‘I found this book oddly reassuring in these uncertain times. There are good reasons as to why the 1918 pandemic may not be as deadly if it happened today and we have learned things along the way with subsequent pandemics. The WHO has got your back, as do thousands of scientists working in the background.’

Other editions ofInfluenza
  • Influenza
    ISBN: 9781925774153
    8 January 2019
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