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The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History

The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History

Written by Molly Caldwell Crosby

Narrated by Paul Woodson


The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History

Written by Molly Caldwell Crosby

Narrated by Paul Woodson

ratings:
4.5/5 (25 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 5, 2017
ISBN:
9781541482395
Format:
Audiobook

Description

Over the course of history, yellow fever has paralyzed governments, halted commerce, quarantined cities, moved the U.S. capital, and altered the outcome of wars. During a single summer in Memphis alone, it cost more lives than the Chicago fire, the San Francisco earthquake, and the Johnstown flood combined.

In 1900, the U.S. sent three doctors to Cuba to discover how yellow fever was spread. There, they launched one of history's most controversial human studies. Compelling and terrifying, The American Plague depicts the story of yellow fever and its reign in this country-and in Africa, where even today it strikes thousands every year. With "arresting tales of heroism," it is a story as much about the nature of human beings as it is about the nature of disease.

Publisher:
Released:
Dec 5, 2017
ISBN:
9781541482395
Format:
Audiobook


About the author

Molly Caldwell Crosby is the national bestselling author of Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine’s Greatest Mysteries and The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History, which has been nominated for several awards. Crosby holds a master of arts degree in nonfiction and science writing from Johns Hopkins University and previously worked for National Geographic magazine. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, Health, and USA Today, among others.

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What people think about The American Plague

4.3
25 ratings / 18 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    An interesting, workman-like book about how yellow fever has influenced American history, with special emphasis on Memphis, Tennessee. The trials of those striving to find the cause of the disease, and the horrors of the disease itself, are clearly protrayed.
  • (4/5)
    A fascinating account of yellow fever in the United States, Crosby begins with the catastrophic 1878 epidemic in Memphis, TN then follows Walter Reed and the brilliant scientists who proved that the fever was spread by mosquito. The writing style was smooth and interesting, without excessively dramatized scenes. Crosby took great care to confirm her facts and her sympathy and admiration for both the famous historic characters and those who never got credit for their courage is passed on the to reader. Worth owning.
  • (5/5)
    This is a very enjoyable book. The author has a narrative style that makes this topic thoroughly interesting and enjoyable to read. The one problem with this book? The section about the possible effect that yellow fever could have on the United States today. Living in a warm mosquito filled area, this book completely freaked me out! If you read this be prepared to stock up on mosquito netting and DEET filled products.
  • (5/5)
    This title is pretty self-explanatory, it is a well written account of the Yellow Fever epidemic that hit Memphis, Tennessee in 1878 and the fight to find the cause extending into the 20th century. Amazing! She has researched her subject so well that you can readily picture yourself in the times described. Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    A very strong book concerning plague in nineteenth century America. A look at how the poor are forgotten in the time of panic and how the influential can escape the problems that the poor can not.
  • (4/5)
    This book is split into three main parts. In the first part, it takes us through the yellow fever epidemic that hit Memphis, Tennessee in 1878. In the second part, it looks at the doctors who tried to figure out where yellow fever came from and how it spread, including the human volunteer experiments that they performed. In the third part, in current day, what is being done now about yellow fever? I thought this was very interesting. The first part, in particular, really drew me in, but even the second part, though it started off a little slow, really picked up. The third part was actually the least interesting to me, but it was also the smallest part of the book. It was real easy to follow for a nonfiction book, so kudos to the author for writing it that well.
  • (4/5)
    A well-researched and thought-provoking study of yellow fever. The first half of the book focuses on the last great American outbreak of yellow fever which occurred in Memphis during 1878. The description of a city besieged by disease is one of the book's strongest points. The second half of the book examines the scientific and medical aspects of the fever and follows the progression of a team of scientists (dubbed The Cuban Commission and led by Walter Reed) whose job it was to determine the manner in which the fever was acquired and transmitted. While ultimately successful, that success came at a great cost of human life and (with considerable historical hindsight) involved some deeply troubling and inhumane testing practices.While a bit dry and slow-going in places, this book generally does an admirable job of informing and entertaining the reader which, ultimately, is what makes it a worthwhile read.
  • (4/5)
    This book is not just about solving the mystery of the etiology of yellow fever. The disease had a significant impact on American history and many Americans lost their lives. Ms Crosby writes in a very entertaining style and you do not need to be an expert of any kind to enjoy this book. Perhaps "enjoy "is the wrong word given the human suffering described in the book. One reviewer commented that after a few chapters he needed to take an aspirin and lie down but loved the book.
  • (3/5)
    Crosby begins with a yellow fever epidemic in Memphis in 1878 that prompted a mass evacuation and killed most of those remaining. She could have spent a little more time in Memphis, but chooses to move on to documenting the cure, and in so doing gives a mini-biography of Major Walter Reed. Next stop is the invasion of Cuba, mitigated because the US wanted to protect itself from the fever, which entered the country largely from Cuba. Crosby also provides brief sketches of all the medical minds that worked with Reed to prove yellow fever was spread by mosquitoes. She includes a painfully brief description of the scientist who achieved the breakthrough vaccine. Near the end, she veers off on some contemporary tangents that only distract from the historical thread she has established. Perhaps a better editor would have kept her on the straight and narrow. Still, a good first book.
  • (3/5)
    The middle 60% of this book - where the author talks about Walter Reed & his team tracking the cause of Yellow Fever is very good and probably worth the price of the book. The start & finish weren't up to the same quality - they felt a little like diversions from the main story. Still worth a read - I'd give 4 stars for the middle, 2 for the rest.
  • (5/5)
    I attended a lecture given by Molly on this book. It was a powerful slide presentation that gave me in depth information on the Yellow Fever epidemic. It made me understand the politics of Memphis and how its racial makeup came to be. I highly recommend this book. Immediately after her lecture, I bought the book and enjoyed reading her findings on this tragic event in the US history.
  • (3/5)
    While the information was solid, the reading was a little dry. The first section on the Memphis plague, for instance, was structured narritive-style, but lacked any sense of immediacy or emotion. More use of quotes and firsthand accounts could have helped this bit out a lot. Even a little speculation. It's okay.The middle portion, chronicling the actual discovery of the source of yellow fever by Walter Reed and crew was more interesting, even if it still suffered a bit from the dry, academic tone. Again, I might have liked a better feel for what it was like to have lived that experience, but the information was solid.Sadly, by the time I got to the last part, I had already decided that I found the similarly-titled, technically children's book, An American Plague by Jim Murphy decidedly more interesting and informative, and gave it up for a lost cause.
  • (2/5)
    During a single summer in 1878, yellow fever killed more people in Memphis than the Chicago fire, the San Francisco earthquake, and the Johnstown flood combined. Memphis was turned into a city of corpses. Scientists, doctors, nuns--no one knew how to turn back the tide of disease. There was no known cause, no known treatment, and certainly no cure or prevention. Crosby does a passable job evoking the feelings and political implications of the epidemic, but falls apart when it comes to scientific writing.
  • (2/5)
    Bits about the disease are interesting; the other bits, not so much.
  • (5/5)
    This interesting and beautifully written book covers the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis and the efforts to figure out what was causing the disease. This brings in Walter Reed and other historic figures and ties us to Cuba in around 1900. History here is compellingly written, so it almost reads like a novel - except it is all true. The author has Memphis connections and the book definitely reads as if it were written by someone who has an emotional connection to these characters and this setting. Crosby weaves in a range of related historical events, and includes a chapter at the end that speculates what might happen in a modern outbreak. Perhaps my favorite part of the book was the section that I most commonly skip or skim. The notes on each chapter at the end of the book are a fascinating glimpse into the author's mind as she worked through the detective work needed to ferret out this story. Not only did I learn about the plague, I got a sense of the effort of the author to bring me this story.
  • (5/5)
    Fascinating, heartbreaking, couldn't put it down. Very well written story of a terrible disease and how it was eventually conquered.
  • (4/5)
    Crosby’s saga of the striped moqsuito and yellow fever is great medical non-fiction. Not for the squeamish (she writes of several cases of the disease, with full symptom-by-symptom playback), this book starts with the devastating 1878 Memphis outbreak and finishes with the creation of a vaccine in the 1920s. In between, we get the story of Major Walter Reed (of military hospital fame), Dr. Carlos Finlay, and many other pioneers in the history of the disease. A solid, quick read.
  • (4/5)
    Molly Caldwell Crosby is a best-selling author and journalist.She lives in Memphis, Tenn with her family.In 2006, The American Plague was her debut book.The sub title is the untold story of yellow fever, the epidemic that shaped our history.In 1878, Memphis, Tenn was "poised for greatness""By year end, it would suffer losses greater than the Chicago fire, San Francisco earthquake and Johnstown flood combined."Our narrative beings in Memphis, 1878 and the journey continues into Cuba and West Africa, where a handful of doctors would transform medical history.The virus originally arrived in Western Hemisphere, by slave ships.It was estimated to strike 500,000 Americans, killing 100,000.An interesting fact: "It attacked port towns and found its lifeblood in the Mississippi River. "Notes, bibliography and acknowledgments are extensive.My comments can only skim the surface.Molly Caldwell Crosby approaches yellow fever with fervor and develops ancillary medical events in depth.★ ★ ★ ★