In this thoroughly researched account of a long-forgotten tragedy, Robert Watson provides a compelling
look at our nation’s first public health crisis, one defined by bitter disagreements within the medical community, finger-pointing by politicians, and panic among the public, but also by as many acts of bravery and service during the outbreak.
Sadly, history often repeats itself, and although we are vastly better informed and prepared today, the lessons from 1793 apply then as they do now. This book is page-turner that will inform historians, health officials, and the public.— Dr. Leana Wen, public health professor at George Washington University, author of Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health
Dr. Robert Watson guides us through one of the first crises of the new fledgling republic in which the federal government almost ceased functioning as it vacated the seat of government. Dr. Watson brings us to Philadelphia and makes us feel that we are a part of these amazing events as they unfold. As a surgeon, I appreciated his incredibly detailed description of the origin of the virus in Philadelphia that year, the magnitude and description of the tragedy of the disease, the Physician Wars, and the resolution. We are there. And moreover, his exposition of the politicization of the epidemic pitting Hamilton against Jefferson is jarring in its similarity to our COVID-19 experience more than 200 years later.
This is an amazingly accessible treatment of a fascinating multifaceted event at the origins of our republic, whose multiple rippling ramifications echo through to the present day.— Stuart Farber, Surgeon and Adjunct Professor, Nova Southeastern University College of Medicine
Here is another book, of his many, where Professor Watson brings his usual comprehensive description of important events from many years ago. His description of the yellow fever epidemic in 1793 brings the recent Covid-19 pandemic into focus, including the politicization of the disease. I found this book riveting since many of the events happened after the founding of our country in my hometown of Philadelphia.— Frederic A. Blum, former president, Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia
Robert Watson has written a timely and fascinating account of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic, the young nation’s first pandemic. Watson adroitly weaves together the historical narrative of the spread of the disease and the challenges it presented for the luminaries of the Revolutionary War and the nation’s founding. The book is well-researched, yet easily approachable. The modern reader will recognize the uncertainty and panic of the period in this tale of a relatively unknown disease and the inability of public health officials and political leaders to effectively deal with it. The work also explores the complex social history of the era and how the divisions in society affected efforts to confront the disease. — Tom Lansford, professor of Political Science and former Provost, University of Southern Mississippi - Gulf Coast