Pox Americana

Pox Americana

The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82

Book - 2001
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Baker & Taylor
The author recreates one of the most overlooked chapters in American history--the smallpox epidemic that coincided with the Revolutionary War--in terrifying, eye-opening detail, tracing its influence on colonial life and the course of the war. 10,000 first printing.

McMillan Palgrave
The astonishing, hitherto unknown truths about a disease that transformed the United States at its birth

A horrifying epidemic of smallpox was sweeping across the Americas when the War of Independence began, and yet we know almost nothing about it. Elizabeth A. Fenn is the first historian to reveal how deeply variola affected the outcome of the war in every colony and the lives of everyone in North America.

By 1776, when military action and political ferment increased the movement of people and microbes, the epidemic worsened. Fenn's remarkable research shows us how smallpox devastated the American troops at Québec and kept them at bay during the British occupation of Boston. Soon the disease affected the war in Virginia, where it ravaged slaves who had escaped to join the British forces. During the terrible winter at Valley Forge, General Washington had to decide if and when to attempt the risky inoculation of his troops. In 1779, while Creeks and Cherokees were dying in Georgia, smallpox broke out in Mexico City, whence it followed travelers going north, striking Santa Fe and outlying pueblos in January 1781. Simultaneously it moved up the Pacific coast and east across the plains as far as Hudson's Bay.

The destructive, desolating power of smallpox made for a cascade of public-helath crises and heartbreaking human drama. Fenn's innovative work shows how this mega-tragedy was met and what its consequences were for America.


Book News
What Fenn (history, George Washington U.) originally thought was a small, quick, and isolated epidemic among Canadian fur traders turned out to be a significant event in the history of North America. Among her main sources were the records kept by priests and friars in Catholic parishes throughout the Spanish empire in North America. She includes the attempts of the British to use biological warfare against US insurgents and General Washington's controversial decision to inoculate his troops. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Holtzbrinck
The astonishing, hitherto unknown truths about a disease that transformed the United States at its birth A horrifying epidemic of smallpox was sweeping across the Americas when the War of Independence began, and yet we know almost nothing about it. Elizabeth A. Fenn is the first historian to reveal how deeply variola affected the outcome of the war in every colony and the lives of everyone in North America. By 1776, when military action and political ferment increased the movement of people and microbes, the epidemic worsened. Fenn's remarkable research shows us how smallpox devastated the American troops at Québec and kept them at bay during the British occupation of Boston. Soon the disease affected the war in Virginia, where it ravaged slaves who had escaped to join the British forces. During the terrible winter at Valley Forge, General Washington had to decide if and when to attempt the risky inoculation of his troops. In 1779, while Creeks and Cherokees were dying in Georgia, smallpox broke out in Mexico City, whence it followed travelers going north, striking Santa Fe and outlying pueblos in January 1781. Simultaneously it moved up the Pacific coast and east across the plains as far as Hudson's Bay. The destructive, desolating power of smallpox made for a cascade of public-helath crises and heartbreaking human drama. Fenn's innovative work shows how this mega-tragedy was met and what its consequences were for America.

Publisher: New York : Hill and Wang, 2001
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780809078202
0809078201
Characteristics: xiv, 370 p. : ill., maps ; 22 cm

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