Hardback
May 9, 2023
9781421446448
English
312
109212
33
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v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
May 9, 2023
9781421446455
9781421446448
English
312
109212
33
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$34.95 USD, £26.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Lazaretto

How Philadelphia Used an Unpopular Quarantine Based on Disputed Science to Accommodate Immigrants and Prevent Epidemics

How the controversial practice of quarantine saved nineteenth-century Philadelphia after a series of deadly epidemics.

In the 1790s, four devastating yellow fever epidemics threatened the survival of Philadelphia, the nation's capital and largest city. In response, the city built a new quarantine station called the Lazaretto downriver from its port. From 1801 to 1895, a strict quarantine was enforced there to protect the city against yellow fever, cholera, typhus, and other diseases. At the time, the science behind quarantine was hotly contested, and the Board of Health in Philadelphia was plagued by internal conflicts and political resistance. In Lazaretto, David Barnes tells the story of how a blend of pragmatism, improvisation, and humane care succeeded in treating seemingly incurable diseases and preventing further outbreaks.

Barnes shares the lessons of the Lazaretto through a series of tragic and inspiring true stories of people caught up in the painful ordeal of quarantine. They include a nine-year-old girl enslaved in West Africa and freed upon arrival in Philadelphia, an eleven-year-old orphan boy who survived yellow fever only to be scapegoated for starting an epidemic, and a grieving widow who saved the Lazaretto in the midst of catastrophe. Spanning a turbulent century of immigration, urban growth, and social transformation, Lazaretto takes readers inside the life-and-death debates and ordinary heroism that saved Philadelphia when its survival as a city was at stake. Amid the controversy and tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic, this surprising reappraisal of America's historic struggle against deadly epidemics reminds us not to neglect old knowledge and skills in our rush to embrace the new.

About the Author

David Barnes (PHILADELPHIA, PA) is an associate professor of the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Great Stink of Paris and the Nineteenth-Century Struggle against Filth and Germs.

Endorsements

"Well-researched and gracefully written, Lazaretto is a thought-provoking study of the effectiveness and pitfalls of quarantine through a focused lens on early nineteenth-century Philadelphia. This book is especially timely, as the challenges and potential solutions for public health and commerce posed by quarantine during Philadelphia's repeated yellow fever and typhus epidemics echo in our own times as Americans search for a path today to control a novel virus that poses as many uncertainties as these earlier health threats did. The narrative is so engaging, I felt like I was reading a novel."

- Jeanne Abrams, University of Denver, author of Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health

"A powerful, provocative, and timely story of the human drama of maintaining America's public health, balancing public outcry and the limits of known science—a challenge as difficult today with COVID-19 as it was with yellow fever at the nation's birth. David Barnes brings the Philadelphia Lazaretto to vivid life, where seemingly impossible decisions about quarantines had to be made. In telling the Lazaretto story for the first time, he crystallizes important medical and political choices we still struggle with to this day."

- Stephen Fried, New York Times best-selling author of Rush: Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father

"Ingenious and illuminating. Barnes has tracked the history of quarantine in one city over a century as a way of exploring the changing configuration of medical practitioners and thought in the complex, evolving context of lay ideas, public policy, administrative practice, and economic motives."

- Charles Rosenberg, author of Our Present Complaint: American Medicine, Then and Now
Johns Hopkins University Press
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Hardback
May 9, 2023
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