Epidemic: A Collision Of Power, Privilege, And Public Health

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9780762760084: Epidemic: A Collision Of Power, Privilege, And Public Health
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The Epidemic tells how a vain and reckless businessman became responsible for a typhoid epidemic in 1903 that devastated Cornell University and the surrounding town of Ithaca, N.Y. Eighty-two people died, including 29 Cornell students. Protected by influential friends, William T. Morris faced no retribution for this outrage.

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The Epidemic tells the story of how a vain and reckless businessman became responsible for
a typhoid epidemic in 1903 that devastated Cornell University and the surrounding town
of Ithaca, New York. Eighty-two people died, including twenty-nine Cornell students. Protected by influential friends, William T. Morris faced no retribution for this outrage. His legacy was a corporation—first known as Associated Gas & Electric Co. and later as General Public Utilities Corp.—that bedeviled America for a century. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 was its most notorious historical event, but hardly its only offense against the public interest.
The Ithaca epidemic came at a time when engineers knew how to prevent typhoid outbreaks but physicians could not yet cure the disease. Both professions were helpless when it came to stopping a corporate executive who placed profit over the public health. Government was a concerned but helpless bystander.
In this emotionally gripping book, David DeKok, a former award-winning investigative reporter
and the author of widely praised books on the mine fire that devastated Centralia, Pennsylvania, brings this tragedy home by taking us into the lives of many of those most deeply affected.
For modern-day readers acutely aware of the risk of a devastating global pandemic and of the dangers of unrestrained corporate power, The Epidemic provides a riveting look back at a heretofore little-known, frightening episode in America’s past that seems all too familiar.Written in the tradition of The Devil in the White City, it is an utterly compelling, thoroughly researched work of narrative history with an edge.

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The dramatic account of a typhoid epidemic in Ithaca, New York, in 1903, and its dark underside—with lessons for today. From the Prelude: June 16, 1903
All the dead young men and women in Ithaca, and especially at Cornell University, set this epidemic apart. The Ithaca catastrophe riveted America’s attention during February and March of 1903. . . .  Typhoid touched 522 homes in Ithaca, and in 150 of those, two or more people came down with the disease. Yet it had been less an epidemic, which suggests chance, than a crime, a completely preventable catastrophe brought on by the grandiosity, greed, and stupidity of men. Businessman William T. Morris was the principal actor, but he was aided and abetted by his wealthy Ithaca friends who sat on the boards of local banks and Cornell University. Blinded by class and personal loyalties, they arranged critical financing from the university that unintentionally set the deadly events in motion and then protected Morris against a day of reckoning. What happened in Ithaca was not simply bad luck or God’s will. When a water company owner ignores the competent and well-grounded advice of his engineer for economic reasons, and suffering and death result, it is not hyperbole to label it a crime.

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