OVERRIDE

Pox Americana

The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82

Elizabeth Anne Fenn

Hill and Wang

A horrifying epidemic of smallpox was sweeping across North America when the War of Independence began, and until now we have known almost nothing about it. Elizabeth A. Fenn is the first historian to reveal how deeply Variola affected the outcome of the war in every colony and the lives of everyone on the continent. Her remarkable research shows us how the disease devastated the American troops at Quebec and kept them at bay during the British occupation of Boston, and how it ravaged slaves in Virginia who had escaped to join the British forces. During the terrible winter at Valley Forge, General Washington had to decide if and when to attempt the risky inoculation of his troops.

The destructive, desolating power of smallpox made for a cascade of public-health crises and heartbreaking human drama. Fenn's innovative work shows how this megatragedy was met and what its consequences were for the young republic.

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Pox Americana
1VARIOLASeptember 28, 1751. Time has left the early pages of his diary so damaged that the exact date remains uncertain. But it was probably on this day that nineteen-year-old George Washington set sail from Virginia to the island of Barbados with his older half brother, Lawrence. If their departure date is unclear, the brothers' purpose is not: The trip was intended to ease Lawrence's persistent cough and congested lungs, symptoms of the consumption that was to kill him within a year. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, travel abroad was a favored treatment for consumption,
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REVIEWS

Praise for Pox Americana

"With Pox Americana, Fenn has made a stunning contribution to American Revolution studies."--Michael Kenney, The Boston Globe

"A considerable achievement and an extraordinary work of history that uncovers an episode that reshaped America as surely as the War of Independence."
--Garance Franke-Ruta, The Washington Monthly"

"Fenn provides a dazzling new perspective that embraces the entire continent . . . A story that is timely as well as powerful and sobering."
--Alan Taylor, The New Republic
"With Pox Americana, Fenn has made a stunning contribution to American Revolution studies."--Michael Kenney, The Boston Globe

"A considerable achievement and an extraordinary work of history that uncovers an episode that reshaped America as surely as the War of Independence."
--Garance Franke-Ruta, The Washington Monthly"

"Fenn provides a dazzling new perspective that embraces the entire continent . . . A story that is timely as well as powerful and sobering."
--Alan Taylor, The New Republic

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Elizabeth Anne Fenn

  • Elizabeth A. Fenn teaches history at George Washington University. The author of Natives and Newcomers, she lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina.
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    Pox Americana

    The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82

    Elizabeth Anne Fenn

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    Hill and Wang

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