Yellow fever, a virus born of the slave trade, struck 500,000 Americans over two centuries touching every state from Texas to Massachusetts. It paralyzed governments, halted commerce, quarantined cities and altered the outcome of wars. It was not only the gruesome symptoms of the disease-much like those of Ebola today-but the long-term, crippling effect on a place and its people that made it such a dreaded disease and one that the federal government could not ignore.
In 1900, the United States sent three doctors led by Walter Reed to Cuba to discover how this disease was spread. Camped on sprawling farmland just outside of Havana, they launched one of history's most controversial human studies. Two of the doctors would be infected; one would die. Two-dozen men-veterans of the Spanish-American War-would volunteer to be test subjects.
Tragic and terrifying, The American Plague beautifully depicts the story of yellow fever, and its reign in this country. A story that, in the end, is as much about the nature of human beings as it is the nature of disease....Continua