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Emblems of Conduct (Brown Thrasher Books) Paperback – June 1, 1996

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

<p>Georgia's welcome reprint . . . fills a gap in available gay literature from the pre-Stonewall years. The crisp prose and quiet emotional power . . . endows the memoir with the resonance of an enduring work of creative nonfiction.</p> (Lambda Book Report)

<p>A moving and rewarding piece of creative writing . . . Here is a childhood written with such integrity and a feeling of fidelity to time and place that not merely southerners will feel a sense of recognition but all others as well.</p> (Ralph McGill <i>New York Times Book Review</i>)

About the Author

Donald Windham is the author of "The Dog Star," "The Hero Continues," "The Warm Country," and numerous other novels and memoirs. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Series: Brown Thrasher Books
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press; Reprint edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820318418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820318417
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,927,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Plague is a fascinating subject because it is so utterly awful and so feared. Marilyn Chase's book not only explains this ancient (and current) disease, it is also a social history of San Francisco at the turn of the century. The disease first struck working-poor Chinese, and the rich white establishment wrongly figured they could stamp it out by being wretched to this minority population. When that didn't work, they denied that plague existed and impugned the public health doctor who kept insisting that it did.
Chase shows the official conspiracy--including the city's press--that not only kept information from the public but actively lied to San Franciscans. Ultimately, she shows that the battle to rid San Francisco of plague was won by persistence, diplomacy and sharing the nitty-gritty facts with the public.
Those who think the plague is a disease of the past, or at least of the Third World, might be interested to read the epilogue. It shows that plague is carried by rodents of the American West, and contains an account of a plague case in New Mexico in 2000.
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Format: Hardcover
If you know anything about medieval history, you know about the Black Death, the mysterious plague that killed off a third of the population of Europe. It may be surprising to learn that bubonic plague has made its mark on modern America. In 1900 in San Francisco's Chinatown, Wong Chut King died of a precipitous and horrifying illness, starting with a rush of fever and chills, continuing to agonizing back pains, painful lumps in the groin and armpits, bleeding, coma, and ending in death. It seemed to be the plague, and it seemed to city government the worst possible news, not because a resident of Chinatown had died, but because it meant bad economic prospects if the cause of death was found out. The amazing story of the arrival of bubonic plague in America and the difficulties involved in its eventual control is told in _The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco_ (Random House) by Marilyn Chase. It is a surprisingly exciting tale, with lessons for our own century.
The thousands of citizens of Chinatown were worried that discovery of the plague in their midst would only increase the considerable discrimination against them. They were right; the city quarantined Chinatown, eventually with barbed wire, arbitrarily zigzagged to exclude white stores and churches. Joseph Kinyoun, the federal medical officer for the city, tried to impose the quarantine and force vaccines, but Chinese community groups were able to have them struck down as racially discriminatory. Kinyoun was opposed by civic leaders fearing an economic impact if the plague became well known, and was eventually run out of town. His successor, Rupert Blue, had a little more effect, with some control of the plague before 1906, but then came the earthquake.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not only a fascinating look into the origins of the bubonic plauge in early San Francisco, tracing the disease's trek from China through Hong Kong to Chinatown in Honolulu and spreading itself in the western frontier of California; it is a view of how racism and politics affected interfered with solution. When plague first appeared in San Francisco, it struck the Chinatown area the hardest, inflaming tensions between the whites and the immigrants. When Dr. Joseph Kinyoun threatened quaratine of the entire area, the businessmen and politicians rose against him, putting the city' s profitability before the public's health. His replacement, Rupert Blue, managed the plague clean-up campaign with much diplomacy and brought about sweeping changes that not only curbed the rise of the plague, but also enhanced the city's image.
This book has it all -- poitical intrigue, racism, a disease out of control, heroes and villains. Sometimes non-fiction can be better than most novels, and in this case, it makes for a great book well worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
I was raised in Contra Costa County to the east of San Francisco. And of course, we went through state history while in grade school. But not once were we told about the Plague, though we heard plenty about the earthquake and the San Andreas faultline. It came as a complete surprise to me that SF had experienced one more trauma during that decade from 1900-1910...they did not just experience the plague once, but rather a series of them. I guess with all the shipping that SF used to be known for, much of it coming from the Orient, it should not have been so unusual. Much of the area that this happened in has changed drastically over the years, including Chinatown, but I still remember going to Chinatown in the 1960s and seeing butcher shops with dead ducks hanging in the windows.
Most cities had problems with rats. If they thought SF was bad, I hate to think what Chicago was like with that city being the major one for slaughterhouses throughout the U.S., and of course, NY with all the shipping from around the world. What made SF unique is that it was relatively smaller to both NY and Chicago, and considered a clean city. I guess even after 60 years, the area was still embarrassed by their run-in with the plague and that's why we didn't get that information in school.
I love medical history, and we have several very good authors out there, with the late Roy Porter and Laurie Garret being a couple of favorites. Chase's book was alright, but did not have the writing ability of the above authors, and the book seemed dry, and very repititious at times. She obviously did her research, to the point of having the names of so many of the Chinese who died in the first wave of plague. The book just lack the feeling of urgency conveyed by other authors when dealing with epidemics.
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