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Health Crises throughout History (January 2022): Typhoid, Yellow Fever & Black Lung

Typhoid, Yellow Fever & Black Lung

Typhoid fever is perhaps best known to the general public in the context of Typhoid Mary, the first confirmed asymptomatic carrier of the disease. Typhoid Fever: A History, by Richard Adler and Elise Mara, presents an overview of the disease supported by primary sources. They focus on the scientific progress used to understand and fight against the disease and how this mirrors studies of infectious disease in general.

A little-known ship called the Hankey is at the center of Ship of Death: A Voyage That Changed the Atlantic World, by Billy G. Smith. The book is an investigation into the aftermath of a failed abolitionist colony that carried yellow fever and caused major outbreaks in Haiti and the United States. The historical impact of the colony and the outbreaks are the focus of the book rather than the disease itself.

Yellow Fever Years: An Epidemiology of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture, by Ingrid Gessner, focuses on portrayals of yellow fever in literature, especially the gendered and racial implications of the portrayals.

Black Lung: Anatomy of a Public Health Disaster, by Alan Derickson, examines the history of Black Lung disease, focusing on the political movements that pressed for awareness and compensation for victims. Since Black Lung is an entirely occupational disease, it makes the regulatory failures and commercial motivations of the establishment all the more glaring.

Works Cited