Black Death at the Golden Gate: The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague
You’ve likely heard of the Bubonic Plague, which killed 1 in 3 Europeans during the Middle Ages. But have you ever heard of Bubonic Plague in San Francisco and how it threatened not only to shut down the city, but also wreck havoc on the entire United States?
David Randall’s Black Death at the Golden Gate provides a fascinating glimpse into this forgotten chapter of American history. In early 1900, scattered cases of Bubonic Plague began appearing in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Then another case emerged, and another. If left unchecked, San Francisco could soon become the American epicenter of Bubonic Plague. The disease had claimed ten million lives worldwide so far.
Health Official Joseph Kinyoun is the man to stop this from happening, except no one takes him seriously. Bubonic Plague is an inconvenient diagnosis, one that could shut down California’s economy. Railroad barons, businessmen, elected officials, and the local press do all they can to discredit Kinyoun and keep the problem under wraps. While they did manage to destroy Kinyoun’s efforts, they had no impact on the spreading disease. Bubonic Plague began to spread past the borders of Chinatown. Kinyoun’s replacement, Rupert Blu, has to save the city not once but twice from the plague. Bigotry and business interests threaten him at every turn.
Discrimination, bigotry, and greed are woven throughout this fast-paced, historical, non-fiction adventure. It doesn’t seem like bacteriology and the plague should make for exciting reading, but I couldn’t put it down. Lessons learned are just as pertinent today as they were in 1901. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys history or medicine.
|W. W. Norton & Company
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