Sunday, December 10, 2006

An American Plague; The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, by Jim Murphy

In 1793, Philadelphia, then capital of the fledgling United States republic, was overpowered by a vicious killer. The mysterious disease descended upon the bustling city, driving it's wealthy residents to the countryside, and killing an alarming number of citizens. The prose of this non-fiction text flows like a gripping mystery novel, including gruesome details, heroic characters, and pivotal conflicts. The setting, post-revolutionary America, is brought to life through rich details, including the smells, sounds, and dialects unique to late 18th century Philadelphia. This well-researched book is an outstanding example of how I wish all non-fiction books were written---with a unique, flavorful voice and by employing elements of fiction, such as character development, plot, and conflict, in order to tell a true story.

I have not yet had the opportunity to share this book with a class of fifth graders, but I predict they will relish the suspense and enjoy the story, while also learning many true and important facts about this historical time period.

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