Barry's new book is The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History. In 1918, the influenza virus emerged, and in the next year killed millions of people. He writes "before that worldwide pandemic faded away in 1920, it would kill more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history." Scientists are still trying to figure out why the virus spread so rapidly and killed so efficiently. The story has relevance today as scientists believe we are due for another flu pandemic.
Reporter Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker speaks about the Spanish influenza of 1918. Gladwell's article in September 29th's New Yorker explores the medical potential of seven buried bodies stricken by this flu. Lodged in the Arctic tundra, the bodies, soon to be exhumed, may hold clues on how to prevent a similar epidemic in the future. Gladwell is the former New York bureau chief of the Washington Post. (Interview by Barbara Bogaev)