Epidemic Invasions: Yellow Fever and the Limits of Cuban Independence, 1878-1930

University of Chicago Press
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In the early fall of 1897, yellow fever shuttered businesses, paralyzed trade, and caused tens of thousand of people living in the southern United States to abandon their homes and flee for their lives. Originating in Cuba, the deadly plague inspired disease-control measures that not only protected U.S. trade interests but also justified the political and economic domination of the island nation from which the pestilence came. By focusing on yellow fever, Epidemic Invasions uncovers for the first time how the devastating power of this virus profoundly shaped the relationship between the two countries.

Yellow fever in Cuba, Mariola Espinosa demonstrates, motivated the United States to declare war against Spain in 1898, and, after the war was won and the disease eradicated, the United States demanded that Cuba pledge in its new constitution to maintain the sanitation standards established during the occupation. By situating the history of the fight against yellow fever within its political, military, and economic context, Espinosa reveals that the U.S. program of sanitation and disease control in Cuba was not a charitable endeavor. Instead, she shows that it was an exercise in colonial public health that served to eliminate threats to the continued expansion of U.S. influence in the world.
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About the author

Mariola Espinosa is assistant professor of history and director of Latino and Latin American Studies at Southern Illinois University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Nov 15, 2009
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Pages
200
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ISBN
9780226218137
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Caribbean & West Indies / General
History / United States / 19th Century
History / United States / 20th Century
Medical / General
Medical / History
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This content is DRM protected.
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An engaging history of the role that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin played in the origins of public health in America

Before the advent of modern antibiotics, one’s life could be
abruptly shattered by contagion and death, and debility from infectious
diseases and epidemics was commonplace for early Americans, regardless of
social status. Concerns over health affected the founding fathers and their
families as it did slaves, merchants, immigrants, and everyone else in North
America. As both victims of illness and national leaders, the Founders occupied
a unique position regarding the development of public health in America. Revolutionary Medicine refocuses the
study of the lives of George and Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas
Jefferson, John and Abigail Adams, and James and Dolley Madison away from the
usual lens of politics to the unique perspective of sickness, health, and
medicine in their era. For the founders, republican ideals fostered a reciprocal
connection between individual health and the “health” of the nation. Studying
the encounters of these American founders with illness and disease, as well as
their viewpoints about good health, not only provides us with a richer and more
nuanced insight into their lives, but also opens a window into the practice of
medicine in the eighteenth century, which is at once intimate, personal, and
first hand. Perhaps most importantly, today’s American public health
initiatives have their roots in the work of America’s founders, for they
recognized early on that government had compelling reasons to shoulder some new
responsibilities with respect to ensuring the health and well-being of its
citizenry.
The state of medicine and public healthcare today is still a
work in progress, but these founders played a significant role in beginning the
conversation that shaped the contours of its development.

The public health movement in the South began in the wake of a yellow fever epidemic that devastated the lower Mississippi Valley in 1878--a disaster that caused 20,000 deaths and financial losses of nearly $200 million. The full scale of the epidemic and the tentative, troubled southern response to it are for the first time fully examined by John Ellis in this new book.

At the national level, southern congressional leaders fought to establish a strong federal health agency, but they were defeated by the young American Public Health Association, which defended states' rights. Local responses and results were mixed. In New Orleans, business and professional men, reacting to the denunciation of the city as the nation's pesthole, organized in 1879 to improve drainage, garbage disposal, and water supplies through voluntary subscription. Their achievements were of necessity modest.

In Memphis--the city hardest hit by the epidemic--a new municipal government in 1879 helped form the first regional health organization and during the 1880s led the nation in sanitary improvements. In Atlanta, though it largely escaped the epidemic, the Constitution and some citizens called for health reform. Ironically their voices were drowned out by ritual invocation of local health mythology and by unabashed exploitation of the stigma of pestilence attached to New Orleans and Memphis. By 1890 Atlanta rivaled Charleston and Richmond for primacy in black mortality rates.

That the public health movement met with only limited success Ellis attributes to the prevailing atmosphere of opportunistic greed, overwhelming debt, economic instability, and inordinate political corruption. But the effort to combat a terrifying disease not fully understood did eventually produce changes and the vastly improved health systems of today.

At the end of the nineteenth century, public health was the province of part-time political appointees and volunteer groups of every variety. Public health officers were usually physicians, but they could also be sanitary engineers, lawyers, or chemists—there was little agreement about the skills and knowledge necessary for practice. In Disease and Discovery, Elizabeth Fee examines the conflicting ideas about public health’s proper subject and scope and its search for a coherent professional unity and identity. She draws on the debates and decisions surrounding the establishment of what was initially known as the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, the first independent institution for public health research and education, to crystallize the fundamental questions of the field.

Many of the issues of public health education in the early twentieth century are still debated today. What is the proper relationship of public health to medicine? What is the relative importance of biomedical, environmental, and sociopolitical approaches to public health? Should schools of public health emphasize research skills over practical training? Should they provide advanced training and credentials for the few or simpler educational courses for the many?

Fee explores the many dimensions of these issues in the context of the founding of the Johns Hopkins school. She details the efforts to define the school’s structure and purpose, select faculty and students, and organize the curriculum, and she follows the school’s growth and adaptation to the changing social environment through the beginning of World War II. As Fee demonstrates, not simply in its formation but throughout its history the School of Hygiene served as a crucible for the forces shaping the public health profession as a whole.

Between the years 1918 and1920, influenza raged around the globe in the worst pandemic in recorded history, killing at least fifty million people, more than half a million of them Americans. Yet despite the devastation, this catastrophic event seems but a forgotten moment in our nation's past. American Pandemic offers a much-needed corrective to the silence surrounding the influenza outbreak. It sheds light on the social and cultural history of Americans during the pandemic, uncovering both the causes of the nation's public amnesia and the depth of the quiet remembering that endured. Focused on the primary players in this drama--patients and their families, friends, and community, public health experts, and health care professionals--historian Nancy K. Bristow draws on multiple perspectives to highlight the complex interplay between social identity, cultural norms, memory, and the epidemic. Bristow has combed a wealth of primary sources, including letters, diaries, oral histories, memoirs, novels, newspapers, magazines, photographs, government documents, and health care literature. She shows that though the pandemic caused massive disruption in the most basic patterns of American life, influenza did not create long-term social or cultural change, serving instead to reinforce the status quo and the differences and disparities that defined American life. As the crisis waned, the pandemic slipped from the nation's public memory. The helplessness and despair Americans had suffered during the pandemic, Bristow notes, was a story poorly suited to a nation focused on optimism and progress. For countless survivors, though, the trauma never ended, shadowing the remainder of their lives with memories of loss. This book lets us hear these long-silent voices, reclaiming an important chapter in the American past.
The powerful, untold story of the 1950 revolution in Puerto Rico and the long history of U.S. intervention on the island, that the New York Times says "could not be more timely."In 1950, after over fifty years of military occupation and colonial rule, the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Violence swept through the island: assassins were sent to kill President Harry Truman, gunfights roared in eight towns, police stations and post offices were burned down. In order to suppress this uprising, the US Army deployed thousands of troops and bombarded two towns, marking the first time in history that the US government bombed its own citizens.

Nelson A. Denis tells this powerful story through the controversial life of Pedro Albizu Campos, who served as the president of the Nationalist Party. A lawyer, chemical engineer, and the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School, Albizu Campos was imprisoned for twenty-five years and died under mysterious circumstances. By tracing his life and death, Denis shows how the journey of Albizu Campos is part of a larger story of Puerto Rico and US colonialism.

Through oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently declassified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a forgotten revolution and its context in Puerto Rico's history, from the US invasion in 1898 to the modern-day struggle for self-determination. Denis provides an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY CHICAGO TRIBUNE • A thrilling adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of Shadow Divers

Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister should have been immortalized in the lore of the sea—his exploits more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s. But his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.

Praise for Pirate Hunters

“You won’t want to put [it] down.”—Los Angeles Times

“An exceptional adventure . . . Highly recommended to readers who delight in adventure, suspense, and the thrill of discovering history at their fingertips.”—Library Journal (starred review)

“A terrific read . . . The book gallops along at a blistering pace, shifting us deftly between the seventeenth century and the present day.”—Diver

“Nonfiction with the trademarks of a novel: the plots and subplots, the tension and suspense . . . [Kurson has] found gold.”—The Dallas Morning News

“Rollicking . . . a fascinating [story] about the world of pirates, piracy, and priceless treasures.”—The Boston Globe

“[Kurson’s] narration is just as engrossing as the subject.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“A wild ride [and an] extraordinary adventure . . . Kurson’s own enthusiasm, combined with his copious research and an eye for detail, makes for one of the most mind-blowing pirate stories of recent memory, one that even the staunchest landlubber will have a hard time putting down.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The two contemporary pirate-ship seekers of Mr. Kurson’s narrative are as daring, intrepid, tough and talented as Blood and Sparrow—and Bannister. . . . As depicted by the author, they are real-life Hemingway heroes.”—The Wall Street Journal

“[Kurson] takes his knowledge of the underwater world and applies it to the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ . . . thrillingly detailing the highs and lows of chasing not just gold and silver but also history.”—Booklist

“A great thriller full of tough guys and long odds . . . and: It’s all true.”—Lee Child
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