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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Year of the Flu by Millys Altman is the author's account - as reported to her by her own parents - of the 1918 influenza pandemic that ravaged the globe, affecting over five hundred million people worldwide. Narrated by Altman herself, the novella takes us back to the small mining village of Uledi (known to the inhabitants as "Revere"), Pennsylvania just as the pandemic began. The town's sole physician, Dr. Holbert J. Nixon, who is also Millys Altman's father, has little in his medicine cabinet when the first outbreak occurs. Normally, he always seemed to have something for everything...until influenza strikes. In a village where most people earn only $35 per month and do not have running water or electricity, Altman describes the panic and devastation that ensued, and the plight of one remarkably heroic doctor.
Year of the Flu by Millys Altman is the only book I've ever read on the 1918 flu pandemic. As Altman states, it killed more people in a year than the Black Death killed in a century, and yet this seems to be the first I've heard about it (unless I simply wasn't paying attention in school that day). The subject matter is fascinating and I particularly enjoyed taking a peek into a 1918 mining village. Altman's account is straightforward and easy to follow, even if at times the compact nature of the book lends to some heavy deposits of information. I'd recommend Year of the Flu to anyone with an interest in US and world history, and/or looking for a quick and captivating tale of a noble physician.