The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History Molly Caldwell Crosby
For the city of Memphis, Tennessee, the summer of 1878 was one of sheer panic. As the threat of death at the hands of a raging yellow fever epidemic loomed, more than half the population began to flee. The disease had been transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which came in swarms on ships from the Caribbean or West Africa. Attacking every organ and poisoning the body from the inside out, the fever causes the body to hemorrhage and ultimately give out, eventually leaving its mark, tinting the skin and whites of the eyes a brilliant yellow. Striking 500,000 Americans and killing 100,000, Yellow fever shaped the history of the United States. Finding its lifeblood in the Mississippi River, it attacked port towns, touching states from Texas to Massachusetts and forcing the nation’s capital from Philadelphia to Washington, precipitating the Louisiana Purchase. It paralyzed governments, halted commerce, quarantined cities and altered the outcome of wars. Both compelling and terrifying, The American Plague depicts the story of yellow fever and its reign in this country and in Africa, where even today it strikes thousands every year.