Why Do We Forget Pandemics?

Policies, Society

Why Do We Forget Pandemics?

Until the Covid-19 pandemic, the catastrophe of the Spanish flu had been dropped from American memory.

The second Moderna shot made me sick—as predicted. A 24-hour touch of what an alarmed immune system feels like left me all the more grateful for my good fortune in avoiding the real thing and for being alive at a time when science had devised a 95 percent effective vaccine in record time.

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The great forgetting

Disease, Threats

The great forgetting

The second Moderna shot made me sick — as predicted. A 24-hour touch of what an alarmed immune system feels like left me all the more grateful for my good fortune in avoiding the real thing and for being alive at a time when science had devised a 95% effective vaccine in record time.

To distract myself from the fever as I tried to sleep, I visualized strands of synthetic messenger RNA floating into my cells to produce the alien spike protein that attracted my warrior T-cells. I drifted off envisioning an epic micro-battle underway in my blood and had a series of weird nightmares. At about two a.m., I woke up sweating, disoriented, and fixated on a grim image from one of the studies I had consulted while writing my own upcoming book, Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America’s Response to the Pandemic, on the Covid-19 chaos of our moment. In his Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, Arthur Allen described how, in the days of ignorance — not so very long ago — doctors prescribed “hot air baths” for the feverish victims of deadly epidemics of smallpox or yellow fever, clamping them under woolen covers in closed rooms with the windows shut.

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Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror

State War, Threats

Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror

Beginning with the chaotic post–World War I landscape in which religious belief was one way of reordering a world knocked off its axis, Sacred Causes is a penetrating critique of how religion has often been camouflaged by politics. All the bloody regimes and movements of the 20th century are masterfully captured here, from Stalin’s Soviet Union, Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Franco’s Spain to the war on terror. With style and sophistication, Michael Burleigh shows how the churches, in their various guises, have been swayed by–and contributed to–conflicting secular currents.

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