Fever Season by Jeanette Keith
The Story of a Terrifying Epidemic and the People Who Saved a City

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While the American South had grown to expect a yellow fever breakout almost annually, the 1878 epidemic was without question the worst ever. Moving up the Mississippi River in the late summer, in the span of just a few months the fever killed more than eighteen thousand people. The city of Memphis, Tennessee, was particularly hard hit: Of the approximately twenty thousand who didn't flee the city, seventeen thousand contracted the fever, and more than five thousand died-the equivalent of a million New Yorkers dying in an epidemic today.

Fever Season chronicles the drama in Memphis from the outbreak in August until the disease ran its course in late October. The story that Jeanette Keith uncovered is a profound-and never more relevant-account of how a catastrophe inspired reactions both heroic and cowardly. Some ministers, politicians, and police fled their constituents, while prostitutes and the poor risked their lives to nurse the sick. Using the vivid, anguished accounts and diaries of those who chose to stay and those who were left behind, Fever Season depicts the events of that summer and fall. In its pages we meet people of great courage and compassion, many of whom died for having those virtues. We also learn how a disaster can shape the future of a city.

About Jeanette Keith

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Originally trained as a journalist, Jeanette Keith obtained her Ph.D. in history from Vanderbilt University in 1990 and is currently professor of history at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. She is the author of several books, including Country People in the New South and the award-winning Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Fight.
Published October 2, 2012 by Bloomsbury Press. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The story of the devastation caused by the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis in 1878, which blighted the city for a generation.

Sep 01 2012 | Read Full Review of Fever Season: The Story of a ...

Publishers Weekly

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Yellow Jack traveled from New Orleans to Illinois in the summer and early fall of 1878, killing 18,000 people and gripping national attention. Historian Keith (Rich Man’s War, Poor Man’s Fight) writes

Jul 09 2012 | Read Full Review of Fever Season: The Story of a ...

The Boston Globe

Sylvanis Landrum, who stayed throughout the epidemic to help the sick (and who lost two sons to the fever), offered his congregation this observation: It would have been impossible to “tell in advance who will be the hero, who the coward, in a crisis like the epidemic.

Oct 15 2012 | Read Full Review of Fever Season: The Story of a ...

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