Saturday, March 07, 2020

Seven books that will help you understand COVID-19

Jeva Lange is the culture critic at

At The Week magazine she tagged seven favorite books that "give us a chance to better understand what's unfolding now with COVID-19," including:
The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History, by Molly Caldwell Crosby

President Trump's much-criticized response to the coronavirus outbreak has parallels with another president and another epidemic — Rutherford B. Hayes, and the yellow fever of 1878. As the disease, borne by mosquitos from Africa, bloomed in Memphis, killing thousands, city officials begged the White House for help. Rutherford waved away the concern: "I suspect the Memphis sorrow is greatly exaggerated by the panic-stricken people," he wrote in reply. Soon, some 20,000 people in the Mississippi Valley were dead, surpassing "the Chicago fire, San Francisco earthquake, and Johnstown flood combined." By the end of the year, nearly a third of Memphis, some 5,000 people, had lost their lives to the disease. While yellow fever is still around, it might feel like something that belongs to a distant place and time — but American Plague, as much as it is a check on leaders' hubris, is also a reminder that in an increasingly interconnected world, an isolated outbreak soon becomes everybody's problem.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue