The influenza pandemic that enveloped the world in the early 20th century receives surprisingly little attention in medical education compared with the recurring and ongoing threats of tuberculosis, HIV, Ebola virus, and anthrax. However, as Gina Kolata (a science writer for the New York Times) makes clear in the first chapter, this was an epidemic directly comparable to the catastrophic plagues of history such as bubonic plague and smallpox. In terms of mortality, estimates of deaths attributable to the pandemic range from 20 to 200 million; in terms of attack rate, it is estimated that > 25% of the US population acquired the disease. For the lay public, the story of the 1918 influenza epidemic perhaps was forgotten due to the overwhelming calamity of World War I, or because the brevity of this particular plague minimized collective recall. However, the medical significance of the pandemic carried enough weight to strongly influence the thinking of those scientists who conceived of, and lobbied for, the “swine flu” immunization program many years later.