Fever Season chronicles the drama in Memphis from the outbreak in August until the disease ran its course in late October. The story that Jeanette Keith uncovered is a profound–and never more relevant–account of how a catastrophe inspired reactions both heroic and cowardly. Some ministers, politicians, and police fled their constituents, while prostitutes and the poor risked their lives to nurse the sick. Using the vivid, anguished accounts and diaries of those who chose to stay and those who were left behind, Fever Season depicts the events of that summer and fall. In its pages we meet people of great courage and compassion, many of whom died for having those virtues. We also learn how a disaster can shape the future of a city.
First Line: When those who lived through the epidemic tried to describe it, they talked about the sudden eerie quiet.
Random Quote: The epidemic set Memphis's course in an entirely new direction. By the end of the century the Bluff City had become a less cosmopolitan place, with an economy that serviced the cotton trade and a population drawn increasingly from poor white and black southerners. While white Memphians set about systematically taking away the rights blacks had attained during Reconstruction, Bob Church rose to wealth and power, in the process creating an oasis in which black cultural and economic dreams could flower. Bob Church's Memphis became the home of the blues and the cradle of rock 'n' roll.
Review: I was born in Memphis and lived there until I was midway through middle school. It's changed a lot since then, but I still consider it home and hold it close in my memories. I've gone back when I could - to eat barbecue and look at the river. The Mississippi River is at its widest point at Memphis and if you grew up with it you'll be spoiled forever for any other river - it's just that breathtaking, insinuating itself into your veins.
|Hernando Desoto Bridge over Mississippi River - Memphis, TN (image source)|
I became very interested in parasites and infectious disease and their influence on evolution when I was in college and graduate school for biological anthropology and remain fascinated to this day. All this is leading up to my reason for getting this book. So far as I know there hasn't been a good modern book on the epidemic and I wanted to know more.
|Yellow Fever Martyrs Memorial - Memphis, TN (image source)|
Fascinating, deeply researched, and well-written, Ms. Keith will hold your attention to the bitter end. The world will look different to you after you read this book whether or not you have a connection to Memphis. Try and keep the mosquito population down, y'all.
FTC Disclosure: Copy from publisher for review via NetGalley
Publishing Information: Bloomsbury USA - October 2, 2012
Reading Challenges: A to Z Reading Challenge, Literary Exploration Reading Challenge, Non-Fiction/Non-Memoir Reading Challenge