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An American Plague
Cover of An American Plague
An American Plague
The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793
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National Book Award Finalist: An account of the disease that ravaged eighteenth-century Philadelphia, written and illustrated for young readers. 1793, Philadelphia: The nation's capital and the...
National Book Award Finalist: An account of the disease that ravaged eighteenth-century Philadelphia, written and illustrated for young readers. 1793, Philadelphia: The nation's capital and the...
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  • National Book Award Finalist: An account of the disease that ravaged eighteenth-century Philadelphia, written and illustrated for young readers.

    1793, Philadelphia: The nation's capital and the largest city in North America is devastated by an apparently incurable disease, cause unknown...

    This dramatic narrative describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the city's residents, relating the epidemic to the social and political events of the day and eighteenth-century medical beliefs and practices. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Jim Murphy spotlights the heroic role of Philadelphia's free blacks in combating the disease, and the Constitutional crisis President Washington faced when he was forced to leave the city—and all his papers—to escape the deadly contagion. The search for the fever's causes and cure provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege.

    Winner of multiple awards, this thoroughly researched book offers a look at the conditions of cities at the time of our nation's birth, and draws timely parallels to modern-day epidemics.

    "A lavishly illustrated book, containing maps, newspaper columns and period illustrations...unflinchingly presents the horrors of the event as well as its heroes."—The New York Times

    "Pair this work with Laurie Halse Anderson's wonderful novel Fever 1793 and you'll have students hooked on history."—School Library Journal

    "History, science, politics, and public health come together in this dramatic account of the disastrous yellow fever epidemic that hit the nation's capital more than 200 years ago."—Booklist

Reviews-

  • DOGO Books otter - This book has a lot of good reviews, so i decided to read it. It is about the yellow fever outbreak in philedelphia.
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 10, 2003
    In marked contrast to the clipped, suspenseful pace of his Inside the Alamo
    (reviewed above), Murphy here adopts a leisurely, lyrical tone to chronicle the invisible spread of the deadly disease that not only crippled Philadelphia (then the temporary capital of the U.S.) but also set off a constitutional crisis. The author evokes the stifling August heat as well as the boiling controversy surrounding President Washington's decision not to support the French in the war against Britain. The residents, so distracted by the controversy, did not take note of the rising numbers of dead animals lying in open "sinks," or sewers; swarms of insects festering, and a growing population of ill citizens climbing until the church bells tolled grim news of death almost constantly. Murphy injects the events with immediacy through his profiles of key players, such as local doctors who engaged in fierce debates as to the cause, treatment and nature of the "unmerciful enemy"—among them the famous Benjamin Rush. The text documents many acts of heroism, including the Free African Society's contributions of food, medicine and home care: the Society was rewarded afterwards only with injustice. Archival photographs and facsimiles of documents bring the story to life, and a list of further reading points those interested in learning more in the right direction. This comprehensive history of the outbreak and its aftermath lays out the disputes within the medical community and, as there is still no cure, offers a cautionary note. Ages 10-14.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from June 1, 2003
    Gr 6-10-If surviving the first 20 years of a new nationhood weren't challenge enough, the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, centering in Philadelphia, was a crisis of monumental proportions. Murphy chronicles this frightening time with solid research and a flair for weaving facts into fascinating stories, beginning with the fever's emergence on August 3, when a young French sailor died in Richard Denny's boardinghouse on North Water Street. As church bells rang more and more often, it became horrifyingly clear that the de facto capital was being ravaged by an unknown killer. Largely unsung heroes emerged, most notably the Free African Society, whose members were mistakenly assumed to be immune and volunteered en masse to perform nursing and custodial care for the dying. Black-and-white reproductions of period art, coupled with chapter headings that face full-page copies of newspaper articles of the time, help bring this dreadful episode to life. An afterword explains the yellow fever phenomenon, its causes, and contemporary outbreaks, and source notes are extensive and interesting. Pair this work with Laurie Halse Anderson's wonderful novel Fever 1793 (S & S, 2000) and you'll have students hooked on history.-Mary R. Hofmann, Rivera Middle School, Merced, CA

    Copyright 2003 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    June 1, 2003
    Gr. 6-12. History, science, politics, and public health come together in this dramatic account of the disastrous yellow fever epidemic that hit the nation's capital more than 200 years ago. Drawing on firsthand accounts, medical and non-medical, Murphy re-creates the fear and panic in the infected city, the social conditions that caused the disease to spread, and the arguments about causes and cures. With archival prints, photos, contemporary newspaper facsimiles that include lists of the dead, and full, chatty source notes, he tells of those who fled and those who stayed--among them, the heroic group of free blacks who nursed the ill and were later vilified for their work. Some readers may skip the daily details of life in eighteenth-century Philadelphia; in fact, the most interesting chapters discuss what is now known of the tiny fever-carrying mosquito and the problems created by over-zealous use of pesticides. The current struggle to contain the SARS epidemic brings the "unshakeable unease" chillingly close.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2003, American Library Association.)

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    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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An American Plague
An American Plague
The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793
Jim Murphy
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The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793
Jim Murphy
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