An American Plague by Jim Murphy
The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (Newbery Honor Book)

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1793, Philadelphia. The nation's capital and the largest city in North America is devastated by an apparently incurable disease, cause unknown . . .

In a powerful, dramatic narrative, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the city's residents, relating the epidemic to the major social and political events of the day and to 18th-century medical beliefs and practices. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Murphy spotlights the heroic role of Philadelphia's free blacks in combating the disease, and the Constitutional crisis that President Washington faced when he was forced to leave the city--and all his papers--while escaping the deadly contagion. The search for the fever's causes and cure, not found for more than a century afterward, provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege.

An American Plague's numerous awards include a Sibert Medal, a Newbery Honor, and designation as a National Book Award Finalist. Thoroughly researched, generously illustrated with fascinating archival prints, and unflinching in its discussion of medical details, this book offers a glimpse into the conditions of American cities at the time of our nation's birth while drawing timely parallels to modern-day epidemics. Bibliography, map, index.


About Jim Murphy

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Jim Murphy is the author of An American Plague, which received the Sibert Medal and a Newbery Honor and was selected as a National Book Award finalist. His Clarion titles include THE BOYS' WAR and other award-winning nonfiction as well as a picture book, FERGUS AND THE NIGHT-DEMON. He lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with his family. For more information visit
Published September 30, 2014 by Clarion Books. 176 pages
Genres: History, Children's Books, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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The account of Philadelphia’s recovery wraps up with a fascinating discussion of historiography, detailing the war of words between Matthew Carey, one of the committee of 12, and Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, the leaders of the Free African Society—interesting in itself, it is also a valuable ...

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One of the truly wonderful things about this book, as well as Murphy's other books, is that he strives to tell the whole story.

Jun 23 2003 | Read Full Review of An American Plague: The True ...

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