18-10 Segment 2: The Spanish Flu of 1918

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Often times, events that affect an entire population are not easily forgotten. But, the Spanish Flu is one of those that has not received as much attention as other events of similar merit. Susan Meissner, author of As Bright As Heaven, explains that 100 years ago in 1918, the Spanish Flu travelled around the world killing around 50 million people. Despite its death toll,  it is one of the few diseases that many people know very little about.

How did a disease with such a massive death toll garner so little attention? Meissner believes that the lack of media attention at the time when the Spanish Flu occurred is part of the reason why it was forgotten. However, she also explains that the Spanish Flu began during World War I and ended around the same time, and people dealt with the combined death toll of both of these events by disregarding the pain entirely. Due to the immense feeling of loss during the 1920s, the Spanish Flu became almost absent in history.
In her novel, Meissner gives details about the flu by contextualizing it in the midst of a modern day story. With her novel, Meissner explains that her main goal is to acknowledge the emotions embedded within the Spanish Flu that affected the entire world. Check out her novel As Bright as Heaven, and listen to her explain more about the Spanish Flu in this week’s show.


  • Susan Meissner, author of As Bright As Heaven

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