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An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (Newbery Honor Book) Hardcover – June 23, 2003
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From School Library Journal
Grade 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 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Many of the other reviewers have praised his writing style, making history seem more like a tale than a tome. I agree, and will leave that area of praise for others. I see no point in "Me too" redundancy -- or simply let this statement do that. "Yeah, what they said..."
One thing I wanted to address is how Murphy demonstrates good historical work for his young readers. Even in a "youth" book, he shows the importance of using original period material by USING it. In addition to the facts of the plague, the reader gets an idea of HOW TO DO HISTORY by reading this book. Murphy teaches something of the historian's art.
He doesn't include a "biliography" in the most formal sense of the word. He has an excellent list of sources which are described for the young reader. A student could peruse those pages and get a feel for the type of thing a historian looks for in his research ... and why! Teachers should grab this book for use with their students (I taught high school for eight years, myself, and found teaching the methods of research one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, topics I addressed with my students.) This book is an excellent model.
And, yes, I learned something about the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic and its effects on Philadelphia (and, owing to the city's status as the US Capital, how it affected much of the country and created Constitutional issues, as a large-scale crisis often can, and how those are resolved.) Now, on to Molly Crosby's book about the plague's effects on Memphis!
This is a required summer reading book, we had to buy it. We have three other kids ready to read it when she's done.