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Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793
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Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  105 ratings  ·  18 reviews
In 1793 a disastrous plague of yellow fever paralyzed Philadelphia, killing thousands of residents and bringing the nation's capital city to a standstill. In this psychological portrait of a city in terror, J. H. Powell presents a penetrating study of human nature revealing itself. "Bring Out Your Dead" is an absorbing account, form the original sources, of an infamous tra ...more
Paperback, 334 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by University of Pennsylvania Press (first published 1949)
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BRING OUT YOUR DEAD: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793. (1949). J. H. Powell. ****.
I don’t remember where it was that I first learned of this book, but I’m glad I did. Being a native Philadelphian was also a driving force to read it. As far as I can remember, I never heard of this plague when we studied the history of our state or city in lower school, so most of this was new for me. The author, at the time of his writing this book, was a research librarian at the Philade
The whole time I wanted to shout "MOSQUITOS! It is the MOSQUITOS!" I loved this book. But I also love public health and epidemiology...
“Grim and fantastic senselessness” is the author’s description of the yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1793. And an apt description it is. Approximately 10 percent of city’s population died in the late summer/fall of the year -- a number disproportionately representing the poor and sick who could not escape the city.

Yet the well-to-do were not immune. A sad part of this story is the indiscriminate way the fever killed. At the time, a large part of the city’s leadership fled the city -- the poor,
This book goes beyond history to provide an account of individual heroism and nobility. The primary hero is Dr. Benjamin Rush, who led the fight against the plague of yellow fever in Philadelphia of 1793. The book is both well-written and well-researched, filled with details about the plague and its effect on all aspects of life in Philadelphia starting in the summer of 1793. Caribbean refuges brought the Yellow Fever. Philadelphia's ravenous mosquitoes provided the perfect vehicle for spreading ...more
Michael Rubin
"Bring out your dead" did not originate as a Monty Python catch-phrase. It was an urgent call to clear homes of the deceased as the plague swept through cities both in Europe in America. This book, by J.H. Powell, details the horrors of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic that descended on Philadelphia, as well as providing fascinating insights into medical and social history. A compelling read.
With yellow fever spreading in South America, I figured I'd look at how it affected things here during one outbreak in Philadelphia in 1793.

It was pretty much your typical chaos, with an exodus of people who were able to leave and a long, challenging time for those who couldn't. While describing the progress of the outbreak and the way those still around dealt with it (they made their own government!), the book also emphasizes the state of medicine and the place of physicians in society at that
Probably the #1 thing that people who know me don't know about me is that I love epidemics. Do you remember the Google map overlay with morbidity/mortality statistics for H1N1? I refreshed it every 5 minutes. Anyway.

This book is a little bit about the Philadelphia yellow fever epidemic and a little bit about Benjamin Rush (the most-respected doctor in the US at the time), but mostly it's about what people do when they confront problems that they don't understand and can't solve. Some people flee
Decent bit of history and a lovely reappraisal of Benjamin Rush, pompous medical assclown of the colonial era. No matter how much Powell pulls his punches and gives a kind and sympathetic word to Dr. Rush, I relished his laying down the reckoning with the verity that bleeding persons suffering from fever can only kill them faster.

Sadly, for Powell, this book made me yearn for Hans Zinsser's Rats, Lice, and History, my favorite book on plague.
Debra Track
Fascinating, if gruesome, subject matter. Writing was fairly dry at times. Having grown up in and around Philadelphia, it was interesting to read of places I know well, places which no longer exist and learn a little bit about some of the well-known local persons.
Paul Statt
On the small shelf dedicated to medical disaster stories, Bring Out Your Dead is a standout. Fascinating insights into the important role played by Haiti in the early American republic, and also the early Black population of Philadelphia.
An excellent read and very informative about the yellow fever in Philadelphia. It is amazing that the city survived and thrived after the chaos of this epidemic. It's not footnoted but good end notes.
Jean Barry
You are so glad you live now. You are so glad you have modern medicine. And sanitation. And screens for your windows. And air conditioning. And refrigeration.
Outstanding and very interesting book about Yellow Fever. A good template for understanding how yellow fever affected any colonial town.
Feb 14, 2010 madsenmel is currently reading it
Another find from my trip to Philly. Great book so far...plenty of facts and information, but not really textbook-y.
Tim Painter
A very informative book on the yellow fever that devastated the U.S. back in the 18th century.
Since moving I want to read this again...
This is my favorite book!
Shawn Marie Hardy
Mar 20, 2014 Shawn Marie Hardy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historians, those interested in medicine
Recommended to Shawn Marie by: I found it by accident.
This book was really hard to get into but I'm glad I stuck with it. It was very informative and really made me feel thankful that we have the modern comforts that we have today. I envision life in 1793 full of people smelling like camphor and vinegar, and the streets of urine and feces and dead meat.

It was interesting to find out that a makeshift government sort of just happened during this time, and it confirms my beliefs that we need some sort of government in order to succeed as a society. B
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