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Archive: Other Books > The Winter Station; 4 Stars

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message 1: by Hahtoolah (new)

Hahtoolah | 439 comments The Winter Station is based on an actual event of a deadly plague epidemic that occurred in Kharbin, Manchuria in 1910 which killed tens of thousands of people.

Kharbin was a railroad hub in Manchuria that was under the control of both Czarist Russia and the Chinese empire. The citizens of Kharbin are both Russian and Chinese and there is also a “foreign” section of the city. The novel follows the Baron, the chief Russian medical officer of the city. The Baron is of Russian aristocracy with a Manchurian wife, something that would be frown upon had he been living in Western Russia.

Bodies begin to be found near the rail station, but then mysteriously disappear. The cause of death is unknown. Soon people begin to run high fevers, begin coughing blood and are dead within days. The mortality rate of the disease was virtually 100%.

Doctors from Russia and Europe descend upon Kharbin to determine the cause of the epidemic. Also on the scene is Dr. Wu Lien-Teh, a Malayan-born Chinese doctor. (He is an actual historical figure.) Medical examination of patients must be sensitive to both Western and Chinese medical techniques.

Because Dr. Wu was born in Malaysia, his mastery of Russian and Chinese is shaky. This creates some initial mistrust among the other doctors. Dr. Wu received his medical degree at Oxford University, so his ideas were very radical to the Russian and Chinese doctors. His ultimate solution for handling the plague was a turning point preventing further spread of the disease.

Unfortunately, the novel does not provide more insight into Dr. Wu. I researched Dr. Wu and the 1910 plague epidemic. He was a significant figure in modern Chinese medicine. The plague is believed to have killed between 50,000 and 60,000 during the winter of 1910.


message 2: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Oooo...this sounds like it is in the same vein as The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus. Would you consider it similar? Was it more narrative nonfiction or traditional (read: drier) nonfiction?


message 3: by Hahtoolah (new)

Hahtoolah | 439 comments This book is actually a novel, based on the actual event of the plague epidemic.


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