Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Great Influenza

On a recent flight I read a good book called, "The Great Influenza - The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History" by John M. Barry. This is probably not the best book to read on a plane where people are coughing.

From the slip cover: In the winter of 1918, history's most lethal influenza of viruses was born. Over the next year it flourished killing as many as 100 million people.

It took me almost 100 pages to get into the book because of medical jargon, a large number of characters, technical research, and historical footnotes. After that I could not put it down for the next 350 pages.

The book not only tells the story of this great flu but it tells of the social impact and how isolated people became and how communities were no longer helping each other.

It is particularly interesting in light of one of the books I am listening to on CD called, "Social Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman that talks of the importance of social interaction on health and well being.

In some communities, 60% or 70% of the population was wiped out.

Medical researchers were not well connected and did not collaborate well during the crisis and medicine was way behind where it is today. (Although I do not think it is as far ahead as we would like to think.) In that day, in some cases they still bled people to try to help them get better.

The book made me think of my own mortality (something that I tend to fight, hence the exercise, etc.). It also made me think of the social system that we have.

The book is extremely well researched with 50 pages of footnotes.

Although this is not a business book, it was certainly interesting and I learned a lot. I do think that businesses need to think about what happens in the next pandemic. We all need a plan.


At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have read this book as well. Pandemic planning something business leaders don't take seriously enough. The World Health Organization says it is a matter of WHEN the next influenza pandemic will happen, not IF. I belong to a CEO Peer Board and one of the members said his firm almost went bankrupt during the SARS outbreak. This started me thinking about what could be done to reduce one's risk during a pandemic. The net result was that I developed a Pandemic Response Kit. Have a look at our website: www.pan-guard.com

Mark Goldberg, Guelph ON

At 12:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll have to read that Book. We have setup the equivalent of a remote office for companies, ala carte, with secure mail, two factor authentication, apps hosted in secure data centres, local printing, mail forwarding to wireles devices, etc... We did this of SaaS, however, it seems now that the Pandemic threat will assist in the adoption of the remote worker in a big way, if only in preparation today. This can also help the environment of course, through a reduction in commuting, now we need to add the social component that you speak of. Thanks for the insight from the book.



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