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Catharine Arnold, Pandemic 1918

Catharine Arnold, Pandemic 1918

Six Bridges Book Festival presents Pandemic 1918, a virtual conversation with author Catharine Arnold.

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Historian and bestselling author Catharine Arnold will discuss her riveting book, Pandemic 1918: Eyewitness Accounts from the Greatest Medical Holocaust of Modern History. Timothy G. Nutt, Director of Historical Research Center at the UAMS Library moderates. Arnold will take questions from the audience after the discussion.

“In January 1918, as World War I raged on, a new and terrifying virus began to spread across the globe. In three successive waves, from 1918 to 1919, influenza killed more than 50 million people. German soldiers termed it Blitzkatarrh, British soldiers referred to it as Flanders Grippe, but world-wide, the pandemic gained the notorious title of “Spanish Flu”. Nowhere on earth escaped: the United States recorded 550,000 deaths (five times its total military fatalities in the war) while European deaths totaled over two million.

Amid the war, some governments suppressed news of the outbreak. Even as entire battalions were decimated, with both the Allies and the Germans suffering massive casualties, the details of many servicemen’s deaths were hidden to protect public morale. Meanwhile, civilian families were being struck down in their homes. The City of Philadelphia ran out of gravediggers and coffins, and mass burial trenches had to be excavated with steam shovels. Spanish flu conjured up the specter of the Black Death of 1348 and the great plague of 1665, while the medical profession, shattered after five terrible years of conflict, lacked the resources to contain and defeat this new enemy.

Through primary and archival sources, historian Catharine Arnold gives readers the first truly global account of the terrible epidemic.”

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Catharine Arnold read English at the University of Cambridge and holds a further degree in psychology. She is the author of Necropolis London and its Dead; Bedlam London and its Mad; City of Sin, London and its Vices; and Underworld London City of Crime. Globe, the World of Shakespeare’s London was published by Simon & Schuster in April 2015. Edward VII The Prince of Wales and the Women He Loved was published by St Martin’s Press in 2017. Catharine’s previous books include Lost Time, which won a Betty Trask award, and Changeling, both published by Hodder & Stoughton. Catharine’s latest book, Pandemic 1918, Eyewitness Accounts from the Greatest Medical Holocaust in Modern History will be released in paperback May 12, 2020, by St. Martin’s Press

“(Arnold] is good at looking at civilians as well as troops and their nurses and doctors and at teasing out the human side of the catastrophe … powerful stories of ordinary people.” – Wall Street Journal

“Historian Arnold presents a collection of essays that colorfully illustrate the everyday impact of the disease … an enjoyable read.” – Library Journal (starred review)

“A wealth of stories … well-researched.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Detailed and chilling … Arnold gives firsthand accounts from those who witnessed and survived the Spanish flu’s deadly grip while examining its impact.” – Bookpage

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Date and Time

May 21 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm