American Plague

The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

By Jim Murphy
(Clarion Books, Hardcover, 9780395776087, 192pp.)

Publication Date: March 20, 2003

List Price: $18.99*
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Description

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

In a powerful, dramatic narrative, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the city's residents, relating the epidemic to the major social and political events of the day and to 18th-century medical beliefs and practices. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Murphy spotlights the heroic role of Philadelphia's free blacks in combating the disease, and the Constitutional crisis that President Washington faced when he was forced to leave the city--and all his papers--while escaping the deadly contagion. The search for the fever's causes and cure, not found for more than a century afterward, provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege.

Thoroughly researched, generously illustrated with fascinating archival prints, and unflinching in its discussion of medical details, this book offers a glimpse into the conditions of American cities at the time of our nation's birth while drawing timely parallels to modern-day epidemics. Bibliography, map, index.




About the Author
Jim was born in Newark, New Jersey, and earned a B.A. in English from Rutgers University. Over the years he has had such offbeat jobs as boiler repairperson, chainlink fence installer, roofer, and apartment cleaner, and has worked in a plastics factory, sold books, and been a "tin-knocker" on New York City skyscrapers, working thirty or so stories up on open steel. From 1970 -1977 he was the managing editor for Clarion Books. Murphy has more than twenty-five books to his credit. He is a two-time winner of both the SCBWI Golden Kite Award and the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award, and received a Newbery Honor for his book The Great Fire (Scholastic). He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with his family.
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