Barry’s The Great Influenza is a history of the 1918 flu epidemic. However, the book is of interest not just as history, but as an education in the science of medicine and the nature of disease. Largely forgotten today, in its era the epidemic was as much of a crisis as the first world war that was being fought at the same time. Barry’s narrative moves along at a brisk pace as he explains how wartime preparation and troop movements altered the progress of the epidemic at the same time that the epidemic forced changes in the conduct of the war. Rural areas far from the fighting, both in the US and elsewhere, also suffered from the ravages of the disease despite never hearing a shot fired in anger. But while the public has largely forgotten, medicine has not forgotten the 1918 epidemic, as in the intervening decades researchers have continued to study samples collected during the plague years, advancing the science of epidemiology against the possibility of future plagues. And Barry seamlessly integrates these modern discoveries into the historical record, creating a rather interesting detective story which traces the origin, spread, and decline of the disease. In an era when world-wide epidemic scares are a feature of the evening news, Barry’s tale of one of the first pandemics is useful as well as entertaining reading.