An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (Newbery Honor Book)
5 journalers for this copy...
This book's aimed at younger readers too, but is still a pretty comprehensive look at the plague. I especially enjoyed the images from the local newspaper, featuring articles about the spreading illness, pleas from the mayor in an attempt to preserve order, and more.
The descriptions of the stench of a crowded, busy town in a very hot summer, with a shipload of spoiled and rotten coffee added to the usual ordure, would certainly put me off any desire to time-travel - at least to that spot! But it added to the increasingly-horrific atmosphere; bad enough to be horribly ill, too weak to help yourself and perhaps abandoned by your terrified neighbors, but to suffer all this in a sweltering room...
The book goes into the actions of the townsfolk - including George Washington, as Philadelphia was the capital of the US at that time - as well as the struggles of doctors to identify and attempt to treat the plague. I was surprised to see the controversy as to whether this was or was not yellow fever; apparently yellow fever, uncurable then (as now, though there are much better treatments and preventatives these days), was so frightening that many people didn't *want* to believe it had struck.
The book touches on the panic and horror, but also features acts of great kindness and even heroism - some from an unexpected quarter: the Free African Society provided nursing care to a community in which slavery was still legal...
Despite all the efforts to treat the disease, the plague didn't abate until cold weather struck. The book describes the town's responses to it all, which included a massive cleanup of the water system and the streets - all good things, though not directly connected to the true source of yellow fever, which wouldn't be conclusively identified for over a century. The book has a chapter on that, too, with a surprising quote from a Washington Post editorial circa 1900, to the effect that the "mosquito hypothesis" was "silly and nonsensical rigmarole"! I wonder if they ever got around to retracting that one?
I also read the same YA book years ago, spied this on others' wishlists, so added to mine.
Making a note as I shelve this with the other ABC TBRs to check wishlists when done, to see where it travels to next.
This one is being rabck'd in the tag game to another bc'r
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
If you aren't familiar with Bookcrossing, take a few minutes to check out this very cool site. Bookcrossers LOVE books, and more than anything, they love to read books and then set them free for other people to find and enjoy. I would love it if you would leave a journal entry -- you can say where you found the book or how you liked it when you read it. Then, when you are ready, pass it along for someone else to enjoy! Thanks and happy reading!
Amusingly I got two books in the mail today and both of them started off with GoryDetails. :)
(Like the two previous journalers, I read Fever 1793 at some point so it should be interesting to learn more about the subject.)
The last chapter is indeed sobering: we had a number of cases of dengue fever - another mosquito-borne disease - here not that long ago, so unfortunately these things are still out there, waiting...
USPS tracking # 9549 0104 3302 7125 1403 43
This book would probably work for the non-fiction VBB, the medicine chest box, or even the biographies of things box, but I was hoping to count it for Secretariat's 2017 Never Judge a Book By Its Cover Challenge instead (week 17: country names). Unfortunately I see that Sec has ruled against "America" for this week...but I'm ok with fulfilling a wish "just because" instead. :)
I'm so glad you've found this book!
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Thank you so much for this wishlist book, hyphen8! Also for the variety of bookmarks and labels.
Again, I apologize for the very delayed journal.
It's always interesting to reflect on the fact that, until recently in the course of human history, people thought diseases were caused by bad air (miasma). Since we all know about bacteria and viruses it's somewhat difficult to put oneself into that mindset. At least it is for me. How extra-frightening the world must have been a few centuries ago.
Released for Keep Them Moving Challenge hosted by booklady331.
Thank you, "eponine," for thinking of me when you had this book to share! It arrived this week. I'll be sure to add a journal entry when I read it, but I don't know when that may be.