AN AMERICAN PLAGUE: THE TRUE AND TERRIFYING STORY OF THE YELLOW FEVER EPIDEMIC OF 1793 by Jim Murphy
In the summer of 1793, Philadelphia was a hot and foul smelling place. Sewage and the bodies of dead animals festered in the streets, swarmed by flies, mosquitos, and other insects. When the first few people died, doctors assumed that they had succumbed to the typical summer illnesses believed to be caused by “foul smells.” But more people began to fall ill, and soon the death count had risen to dozens—then over a hundred—each day. Many fled the devastating disease that turned its victims yellow and caused them to spew black bile and blood. But others risked their lives to stay in Philadelphia and search for a cure. Jim Murphy tells the story of one of America’s most famous epidemics, focusing on the doctors and nurses who tried to treat the fever’s victims in a time of limited medical knowledge. The story an interesting glimpse into the history of medicine, though it is not as gripping as some of Jim Murphy’s other nonfiction books which have a stronger “survival story” element. An American Plague is more history than survival story, but is still a fascinating read.
If you liked An American Plague, you might like other books by Jim Murphy, Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, and A Time of Angels by Karen Hesse.
Can you survive a trek through the frozen wilderness of Antarctica? Choose to join a real historical Antarctic expedition or try your luck as a modern Antarctic explorer or scientist! As you make choices, you learn about history, the Antarctic climate, and survival skills. The “You Choose Books” series has a number of books set in historical and extreme survival environments, all of which use the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure format as a vehicle for education. These books are not as complex as many fictional Choose-Your-Own-Adventures–nor do they go into as much depth as many nonfiction books. But they are great for stirring up interest in a subject. As soon as I finished my “adventures,” I started looking up more info about the Scott and Admundsen expeditions online because the glimpse I got from this book had me hooked! Great for reluctant readers, readers who like survival stories, and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure readers looking for a little more depth in content. Check out the whole series!
The blizzard that hit the east coast of the United States in March 1888 took the country and the fledgling National Weather Service completely by surprise and claimed hundreds of lives. Though it was not the most devastating natural disaster the United States has ever faced, it drastically changed the way our nation viewed disaster preparedness and meteorology. Jim Murphy tells the story of the great blizzard through the eyes of the people who experienced it–some who survived to tell the tale, and others who perished–while weaving in the science behind the storm and the big picture of the political and social climate that affected the responses of individuals and the government. Although it is targeted for middle grade and teen readers, this fascinating and fast-paced book may be of interest to adults, as well!
On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, resulting in the deaths almost 1500 people (over 2/3 of those on board). Deborah Hopkinson brings the Titanic’s tragic story to life by focusing on the stories of individual survivors. Using their memories and words, she reconstructs the narrative of the Titanic from its initial departure to its sinking and the aftermath for the 700 survivors—most of them women and children whose husbands and fathers perished in the wreck. Titanic: Voices From the Disaster is engaging, horrifying, and informative. Although the book is marketed to upper-elementary school-aged children, I highly recommend it to anyone (children, teen, or adult) who is interested in learning more about the Titanic or who enjoys survival stories.
If you liked Titanic: Voices From the Disaster, you might also like Revenge of the Whale.