What We’re Reading: Pandemics and the US-UK ‘Special Relationship’

Weekly reviews of what's on our bookshelves.

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History By John M. Barry They coughed until their abdominal muscles and rib cartilage were shredded, and then they coughed more. Sometimes blood dripped from their eyes, ears and noses. After their lungs ruptured, the air pockets leaking out made a crackling sound, like a bowl of Rice Krispies, when nurses moved them. Blue skin – cyanosis – marked them for death. As awful as COVID-19 is – it has killed well over 1 million people worldwide as I write this – it’s nothing compared to the influenza virus that killed an estimated 50 million to 100 million a century ago. My first reaction to John M. Barry’s history of the 1918 flu pandemic was to be thankful that COVID-19 isn’t as severe. Other parts are chillingly familiar: the isolation, the fear of strangers getting too close, images of bodies piling up faster than they can be buried, government obfuscation and cover-ups. Most frightening, undoubtedly, is how mild the first wave in late 1917 was by comparison to subsequent waves. Reasonable, intelligent people believed at various points that the virus’s effects had been overestimated, or they prematurely declared that the worst […]

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Ryan Bridges
Ryan Bridges is an editor with Geopolitical Futures, having spent years both editing and writing geopolitical articles. He joined Geopolitical Futures in 2017 and spent over a year as a geopolitical analyst writing on Europe and focusing on issues relating to the European Union. His expertise as an editor was in high demand so he recently made the change back to editing rather than analyzing. Prior to Geopolitical Futures Mr. Bridges worked for seven years as an editor at Stratfor. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, where he studied political science with a minor in philosophy. Mr. Bridges lives and works from Germany and also travels extensively in the region. He speaks some German.
Caroline D. Rose
Caroline Rose has a Masters of Science (MSc) in the History of International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Just before joining GPF she served as a Research Associate for LSE’s International Drug Policy Unit (IDPU), where she researched the nexus between illicit economies and armed insurgencies. She earned her undergraduate degree from American University's School of International Service and has worked previously at both Brookings Institute and the Atlantic Council. Her studies and projects at these institutions covered a range of topics, from Russian and Chinese cyber warfare, evolving American interest within a changing international order, and grand security strategies against state-led revisionism in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. Throughout she's written for a diverse array of publications including Limes in Italy.