Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bring Out Your Dead; The Great Plague Of Yellow Fever In Philadelphia In 1793” as Want to Read:
Blank 133x176
Bring Out Your Dead; T...
J.H. Powell
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bring Out Your Dead; The Great Plague Of Yellow Fever In Philadelphia In 1793

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  127 Ratings  ·  21 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 trage

Published by Beaufort Books (first published 1949)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Be the first to ask a question about Bring Out Your Dead; The Great Plague Of Yellow Fever In Philadelphia In 1793

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The whole time I wanted to shout "MOSQUITOS! It is the MOSQUITOS!" I loved this book. But I also love public health and epidemiology...
Mar 24, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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,
Denise Barney
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1793, Philadelphia was the center of the new United States. It was the legal capital, the largest shipping port, the center of commerce and trade, the leading city for the study of medicine and learning in general.

The winter had been mild. That summer there was a drought and, with no municipal water system, people captured rainwater in open barrels for their use. During the summer, the city experienced an influx of people fleeing a bloody slave rebellion in Santo Domingo. With them came the
Shawn Marie Hardy
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Chris Herdt
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was interested to read this book because of the many references to it in the annotations to Arthur Mervyn.

The author considers the physician Benjamin Rush one of the heroes of this story. He worked tirelessly and helped instill confidence and hope in the people of Philadelphia during a time of terror, in spite of the fact that his cure for the yellow fever--aggressive bloodletting and mercury--likely killed more of his patients than no treatment at all.

"Panic is cured, not by reason, but by fi
Mar 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciences
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.
Michael Rubin
Jul 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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.
Paul Statt
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Debra Track
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: disease
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.
Feb 14, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Another find from my trip to Philly. Great book so far...plenty of facts and information, but not really textbook-y.
Tim Painter
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, plagues
A very informative book on the yellow fever that devastated the U.S. back in the 18th century.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-hand
Outstanding and very interesting book about Yellow Fever. A good template for understanding how yellow fever affected any colonial town.
rated it really liked it
May 11, 2010
rated it liked it
Mar 27, 2014
rated it really liked it
May 14, 2015
rated it liked it
Mar 31, 2008
June Gemmer
rated it it was amazing
Dec 22, 2014
rated it liked it
Sep 24, 2007
rated it really liked it
Jun 26, 2014
rated it really liked it
Mar 08, 2017
rated it really liked it
Jan 16, 2016
rated it really liked it
Jul 30, 2015
rated it liked it
Sep 24, 2008
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Cholera Years: The United States in 1832, 1849, and 1866
  • The Cutter Incident: How America's First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis
  • America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918
  • Arthur Mervyn: Revised Edition
  • The Black Death and the Transformation of the West
  • The Black Death: Natural and Human Disater in Medieval Europe
  • Pox: An American History
  • America at 1750: A Social Portrait
  • Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy
  • Into the American Woods: Negotiations on the Pennsylvania Frontier
  • Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown
  • The Black Death
  • Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them
  • The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations
  • The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments
  • Disease: The Story of Disease and Mankind's Continuing Struggle Against It
  • The Black Death: A Personal History
  • Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic that Remains One of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries

Share This Book