18-10 Segment 2: The Spanish Flu of 1918

Copyright: jarun011 / 123RF Stock Photo


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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15-25 Segment 2 The Great Fire: An unsung hero who saved thousands


Synopsis: After World War I there was a great conflict in Turkey and many Christians and others were killed. The city of Smyrna was set ablaze and even more people had to run to the beaches just to escape the flames. Refugees poured into the city from towns and rural areas and soon there were tens of thousands stranded on the shore with nowhere to go. We’ll hear how governments and diplomats in the West all but ignored their plight, and how the efforts of one brave relief worker and a Navy commander finally brought the victims to safety.

Host: Marty Peterson. Guests: Lou Ureneck, Professor of Journalism at Boston University, author of The Great Fire: One American’s mission to rescue victims of the 20th century’s first genocide.

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