When Flu, Fire, and War Ravaged the State
Author Curt Brown
Minnesota Historical Society Press (February 15, 2018)
A story of trauma, tragedy, and perseverance in a year that proved to be a turning point in the making of modern America.
In 1918, Minnesota and its residents were confronted with a series of devastating events that put communities to the test, forcing them to persevere through untold hardship. First, as the nation immersed itself in the global conflict later known as World War I, some 118,000 Minnesotans served in the war effort, both at home and “over there” and citizens on the home front were subjected to loyalty tests and new depths of government surveillance. While more than 1,400 Minnesotans were killed on the battlefields, an additional 2,300 soldiers were struck down by another destructive force working its way across the globe in 1918: the influenza pandemic, which left more than 10,000 dead in Minnesota alone. Then, in mid-October, fires raged across 1,500 square miles in seven counties of northeastern Minnesota, leaving thousands homeless and hundreds dead.
In Minnesota, 1918 journalist and author, Curt Brown, explores this monumental year through individual and community stories from all over the state, from residents of small towns up north obliterated by the fire, to government officials in metropolitan centers faced with the spread of a deadly and highly contagious disease, to soldiers returning home to all this from the “war to end all wars.”
Curt Brown spent more than 30 years as a reporter at Minnesota newspapers in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Fergus Falls. He writes a popular Minnesota history column every Sunday for the Minneapolis Star Tribune; the stories were collected in the e-book publication, Frozen in History: Amazing Tales from Minnesota's Past. Brown was named Minnesota Journalist of the Year in 2013 for his serial narrative on the U.S.-Dakota War. He is also the author of the book So Terrible a Storm: A Tale of Fury on Lake Superior, which chronicles a massive storm in 1905. Brown lives near Durango, Colorado, with his wife, Adele.
Reviews and news
In the media:
AM 950 (at the 21.01 mark)
On Minnesota History Podcast
Wake-Up Call UMN Public Health Podcast (Episode 10)
“Curt Brown’s Minnesota, 1918 is an evocative and vivid portrayal of the almost unimaginable series of catastrophes that struck the land of 10,000 lakes in the last year of World War I. A moving, intensely human story.”
James Carl Nelson, author of The Remains of Company D: A Story of the Great War
“With great skill and sensitivity, Curt Brown weaves together the epic stories of the effect on Minnesota of the Great War, the Spanish flu epidemic, and the Cloquet–Moose Lake fires. The year 1918 was a painful one for Minnesotans, bringing suffering for many and death for an astounding number. Although these tragic events took place one hundred years ago, Brown brings them to life with vivid human stories.”
Francis Carroll, author of The Fires of Autumn: The Cloquet–Moose Lake Disaster of 1918
“Mr. Brown has done an excellent job of covering fire, flu epidemic, and world war and ties them all together to show the impact across the state. Because my mother-in-law’s family were fire survivors, I am very familiar with the impact the fire had on her family and the surrounding area. In addition, my father-in-law was injured in Argonne, France, during the war. This book gives me a new perspective into that year.”
Natalie Frohrip, executive director of the Moose Lake Area Historical Society
Related article in Minnesota History:
Early Social Workers and Disaster Relief Workers: The Minnesota Fires of 1918 and the Work of the Red Cross by Camela R. Haase.
Related MNopedia article:
Cloquet, Duluth, and Moose Lake Fires, 1918
MNopedia: Influenza Epidemic in Minnesota, 1918
- This title is also available at your favorite e-book vendor.
- 304 pages
- 50 B&W
- 6x9 inches
- ISBN: 9781681341477