Ida Milne Stacking The Coffins: Influenza, War And Revolution In Ireland, 1918-19


Code 9781526154354
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The 1918-19 influenza epidemic killed more than 50 million people, and infected between one fifth and one half of the world's population. It is the world's greatest killing influenza pandemic, and is used as a worst case scenario for emerging infectious disease epidemics like the corona virus COVID-19.

It decimated families, silenced cities and towns as it passed through, stilled commerce, closed schools and public buildings and put normal life on hold. Sometimes it killed several members of the same family.

Like COVID-19 there was no preventative vaccine for the virus, and many died from secondary bacterial pneumonia in this pre-antibiotic era. In this work, Ida Milne tells how it impacted on Ireland, during a time of war and revolution.

But the stories she tells of the harrowing impact on families, and of medicine's desperate search to heal the ill, could apply to any other place in the world at the time.

About the Author

Ida Milne is European history lecturer at Carlow College and visiting research fellow in the School of Histories and Humanities at Trinity College, Dublin.

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'Long in the making, this is the definitive study of a major but largely neglected disaster that ravaged Ireland a century ago. Milne tells the story with empathy, objectivity, and flair. She is thorough and convincing on the Great Flu's peculiar demography and on its chronology and geography, and excellent also on how officialdom tried to cope with the crisis and on how the politics of the day influenced the discourse around it. A real highlight is the chapter on the oral history of the Flu, which includes interviews with a few centenarians! A very fine book on an important topic.'
- Cormac Ó Gráda, author of Ireland: A New Economic History, and Famine: A Short History

'... Milne carefully uncovers the ways in which influenza heated a bubbling stew of war, politics, and a failing medical system in Ireland. Stories of suffering told by survivors bring human voices and experiences to the cold count of 20,000 Irish dead. The survivors' vivid memories, and Milne's meticulous mining of archival sources, reveal a forgotten crisis that ruptured families and played a role in reconfiguring twentieth-century Irish society.'
- Ann Herring, Professor Emerita, McMaster University

'The first-hand memories of over 25 people who lived through Ireland's "Black Flu" alone make this book moving, dramatic and engrossing reading.'
- Howard Phillips, Professor Emeritus, University of Cape Town and author of Black October: The Impact of the Spanish Flu Epidemic on South Africa


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