The 1918 Flu Pandemic That Revolutionized Public Health

Mass Death Changed How We Think About Illness, and Government's Role in Treating It

Nearly 100 years ago, in 1918, the world experienced the greatest tidal wave of death since the Black Death, possibly in the whole of human history. We call that tidal wave the Spanish flu, and many things changed in the wake of it. One of the most profound revolutions took place in the domain of public health.

The world was a very different place in the first decades of the 20th century. Notably, there was no real joined-up thinking when it came to healthcare. Throughout the industrialized world, most doctors either …

In Medicine, Dying Doesn’t Have to Be a Struggle

Options, Not Treatment, May Be What's Most Needed at the End of Life

Grandma’s dying.

She lived a full life, but illness is getting the best of her. Could be days, could be weeks, the doctors say—unless, that is, she tries one particular …

Has Modern Medicine Made Dying Harder Than Ever?

Hospitals Have Gotten Better at Keeping Us Alive, But That Also Means Thornier Questions at the End of Life

In his 2010 New Yorker essay “Letting Go,” surgeon Atul Gawande stops by the intensive care unit at his hospital and describes the sad state of its patients at the …

Why I Want ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ to Win Best Picture

A Historian Says the Movie Captures the Emotional Exhaustion Hundreds of Thousands of Americans Experienced During the HIV/AIDS Crisis of the ’80s and ’90s

I don’t usually bother with the Oscars, but this Sunday I’ll be on my sofa, snacks in hand, watching the 86th annual Academy Awards in real time. I’m forgoing my …

When Cancer Put Me Under Suspicion

I Didn’t Realize Illness Would Threaten My Credibility. Running 26 Miles Helped.

In late 2006, I underwent a clean, routine mammogram. Six weeks later, I found a small lump in my left breast. Two weeks and two surgeries after that, on January …