The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco

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9780375757082: The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco
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The veteran Wall Street Journal science reporter Marilyn Chase’s fascinating account of an outbreak of bubonic plague in late Victorian San Francisco is a real-life thriller that resonates in today’s headlines. The Barbary Plague transports us to the Gold Rush boomtown in 1900, at the end of the city’s Gilded Age. With a deep understanding of the effects on public health of politics, race, and geography, Chase shows how one city triumphed over perhaps the most frightening and deadly of all scourges.

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Advance praise for The Barbary Plague

“If the folks at Homeland Security read one book this year, let it be Marilyn Chase's The Barbary Plague, for the way it captures in precise detail how political and business imperatives can impede the battle against a deadly epidemic, in this case the bubonic plague–the fabled Black Death–in old San Francisco. The city's leaders, even its health department, fought the news of plague's arrival more aggressively than the disease itself, despite the deaths of dozens of victims. But Chase's book is also simply a great story told of a long past time when a few heroic men, armed with only the most basic knowledge of infectious disease, stood up to the powers arrayed against them and, through ingenuity and intuition, at last ran this epidemic to ground.” -Erik Larson

“Outbreaks of disease can catalyze either courage or cowardice in individuals and society. In vivid prose and at a pulse-quickening pace, Marilyn Chase brings to life a largely forgotten story of a time when America’s character was tested. There is much to learn about how to confront uncertainty from this remarkable tale.”
Jerome Groopman, M.D., author of The Measure of Our Days and Second Opinions

“At a time when fear of anthrax and smallpox are very much in the public consciousness, it’s interesting to go back and look at an outbreak in this country of perhaps the most frightening and deadly of all scourges—the bubonic plague. Everything that we imagine today in our worst nightmares happened in San Francisco in the early part of the twentieth century—a population in denial or panic, politicians refusing to tell the truth, and the sadly inevitable blame on racial grounds. Yet even during the worst days, men like Dr. Rupert Blue rose to the occasion in the most amazing, humane, and courageous ways. This story of the past gives me great hope for the present.”
Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family

About the Author:

MARILYN CHASE, a longtime reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covers medical science and health care, currently focusing on infectious-disease outbreaks and bioterrorism. An honors graduate of Stanford University who also holds a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley, Chase lives with her family in San Francisco.

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9780375504969: The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco

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9781422358337: Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco

Random..., 2003
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