Pox : An American History

3.62 (610 ratings by Goodreads)
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The untold story of how America's progressive-era war on smallpox sparked one of the great civil liberties battles of the twentieth century.

At the turn of the last century, a smallpox epidemic swept the United States from coast to coast. In this gripping account, award- winning historian Michael Willrich chronicles the government's fight against the outbreak and the ensuing clash of modern medicine, civil liberties, and state power. Pox introduces readers to memorable characters on both sides of the debate-from the doctors and club- wielding police charged with enforcing the law to vaccinate every citizen to the anti-vaccinationists, who stood up for their individual freedoms but were often dismissed as misguided cranks. Riveting and thoroughly researched, Pox delivers a masterful examination of progressive-era history that resonates powerfully today.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 139 x 214 x 24mm | 349g
  • The Penguin Press
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0143120786
  • 9780143120780
  • 1,616,476

Review quote

"Willrich's account of the early days of the American progressive movement couldn't be more instructive or timely...a worthy read."
-"Booklist" (starred review)
"Willrich melds meticulous research with elegant writing to create a richly- textured social history...at the charged intersection of science, politics, race, and culture...You'll never think the same way again about the now all-but- mechanical ritual of rolling up your shirtsleeve for a vaccine needle."
-Hampton Sides, author of "Hellhound on His Trail"
..".In the highly skilled hands of Michael Willrich, hard cases make great history. We all have much to learn from this excellent book."
-David Hackett Fischer, author of "Champlain's Dream" and "Washington's Crossing"
"A fascinating, fast-paced story of America's last major smallpox epidemic...This is history at its best written by a master of his craft."
-Michael J. Klarman, author of "From Jim Crow to Civil Rights"
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About Michael Willrich

Michael Willrich is the award-winning author of City of Courts. He is an associate professor of history at Brandeis University and a former journalist who wrote for The Washington Monthly, City Paper, The New Republic, and other magazines. He lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
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Rating details

610 ratings
3.62 out of 5 stars
5 21% (127)
4 37% (223)
3 30% (183)
2 9% (57)
1 3% (20)
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