Cover image for Purple death : the mysterious flu of 1918
Purple death : the mysterious flu of 1918
Getz, David.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, [2000]

Physical Description:
86 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm
An illustrated overview of the onset, progress, and effects of the flu epidemic of 1918, which resulted in the deaths of more than half a million people
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.4 2.0 45155.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RC150.4 .G48 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
RC150.4 .G48 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
RC150.4 .G48 2000 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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It was the worst epidemic in this country's history, and the search for its cause is still one of science's most urgent quests.

It was 1918, the last year of World War 1. Thousands of men lived in the crowded army training camps that were scattered all across the United States. That spring, a strange flu struck the soldiers at a camp in the Midwest. Healthy young men went to the hospital complaining of sore throats and fevers. Within hours they had suffocated, their skin taking on a terrible purplish hue.

The devastating flu spread like wildfire across the country, infecting soldiers and civilians alike. It killed more than half a million people in a matter of months, then disappeared as suddenly as it had come.

To this day, no one knows what caused a common flu to become so deadly, but scientists are still searching for answers. What they discover could save millions of lives if another common flu virus suddenly turns into a killer. In this riveting account, acclaimed nonfiction author David Getz tells young readers the story of the mysterious flu known as the Purple Death -- the virus responsible for the worst epidemic in American history.

Author Notes

David Getz works as a science staff developer in the New York City school system. He has written several nonfiction books for children
Peter McCarty graduated from the New York School of Visual Arts, where he now teaches

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-5. Like Virginia Aronson's The Influenza Pandemic of 1918 [BKL O 15 00], but for a younger audience, this account of the 1918 flu outbreak is like a horror story as well as a factual account of scientific research. "It was the deadliest six months in history. The flu infected nearly 2 billion people, just about everybody on the planet." In discussing what made this flu so deadly, Getz draws on his personal talks with several scientists, and his bibliography lists adult books as well as numerous recent newspaper articles. Without sensationalizing, he writes clearly and dramatically, whether he's describing how vaccines work, how pneumonia was treated before the discovery of antibiotics, or what today's researchers are doing to find the flu virus preserved in the lungs of frozen bodies. There are occasional illustrations by David McCarty, as well as documentary photographs. And always there's the question, What if there's a pandemic today? --Hazel Rochman

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-This medical history begins by describing how the influenza of 1918 spread across the world, infecting 2 billion people and killing 20 to 40 million. Once symptoms began, death could take place within three hours, mostly from lack of oxygen that caused victims to turn purple when their lungs filled with blood due to the virus. The second half of the book is devoted to the efforts of scientists, once the pandemic subsided, to determine its cause. In 1918, no one had a microscope powerful enough to see a virus. Finding a sample of it was a challenge, and in 1951 scientists went to Alaska and Norway where diseased bodies were buried and preserved in permafrost. The author successfully relays the significance this epidemic had upon the world and the importance of continued study to prevent another occurrence. Black-and-white photographs enforce the reality of the crisis and soft, charcoal-pencil drawings capture the somber mood. The format of the book features large, inviting print with lots of white space on quality paper. The painstaking and heroic deeds scientists must take on in order to identify a disease and develop a cure will be interesting to budding scientists.-Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, Miamisburg, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Picnicp. 3
War Feverp. 10
Even the Circus Stopped Touringp. 17
The Hunt Beginsp. 27
Stop What You Are Doing! Make More of Me!p. 33
Alaskap. 38
The Death of Private David Lewisp. 49
The Longest Walk of Her Lifep. 56
A Note Left Behindp. 65
Epilogue: Waiting for the Flup. 72
Bibliographyp. 77
Indexp. 81