John M. Barry is an award-winning and best-selling author whose books have also involved him in policy making. The National Academies of Science named his 2004 book The Great Influenza: The story of the deadliest pandemic in history, a study of the 1918 pandemic, the year’s outstanding book on science or medicine. The Society of American Historians named his earlier book Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America the year’s best book of American history, and in 2005 the New York Public Library named Rising Tide one of the 50 best books—whether poetry, fiction, or non-fiction-- in the preceding 50 years. He is the only non-scientist ever to give the National Academies of Sciences Abel Wolman Distinguished Lecture, and he was the only non-scientist on a federal government Infectious Disease Board of Experts. His articles have appeared in such scientific journals as Nature and Journal of Infectious Disease, in such lay publications as The New York Times, Esquire, Time, and The Washington Post, and he has been a guest on every broadcast network in the United States, appearing on such shows as NBC’s Meet the Press and NPR’s All Things Considered. His most recent book is Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty.
An advisor to the Bush and Obama administrations on influenza preparedness and response, he served on the original team which recommended public health measures to mitigate a pandemic or bioterrorism attack. After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana congressional delegation asked him to chair a bipartisan working group on flood protection, and he served on both the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the levee board protecting metropolitan New Orleans, where he was the architect of the board's lawsuit against 97 energy companies for their role in coastal land loss. Barry has worked with the private sector and with state, federal, United Nations, and World Health Organization officials on influenza, water-related disasters, and risk communication. He serves on numerous advisory boards and is Distinguished Scholar at Tulane University’s Bywater Institute and adjunct faculty at the Tulane University School of Public health and Tropical Medicine.