An American Plague

The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793
Narrated by: Pat Bottino
Length: 3 hrs and 46 mins
4 out of 5 stars (155 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Newbery Honor and Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor-recipient Jim Murphy has written numerous stories based on historical events, such as The Boys' War and The Great Fire. In An American Plague, he tells the story of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic. Bizarre medical practices of the time are discussed, as well as popular historical figures, such as George Washington and Benjamin Rush, who were involved in finding a cure for this horrific outbreak. Pat Bottino's captivating narration adds appeal to this interesting historical tale.
©2003 Jim Murphy (P)2004 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"This audiobook is sure to be a hit with students interested in medical science or U.S. history." (School Library Journal)
"Murphy's dramatic history book...brings to life the determination and perseverance of a people whose future was uncertain." (Christian Science Monitor)
"History, science, politics, and public health come together in this dramatic account of the disastrous yellow fever epidemic that hit the nation's capital more than 200 years ago." (Booklist)

What members say
Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Don't expect technical depth...

I was disappointed by the book. I felt too much time was spent on the nuances of people’s lives and how they reacted to the event. It seems that the author is much more interested in the people than the topic. I get the feeling that this is just another “people in crisis” book within the setting of a yellow fever epidemic (and even in that light, it’s not particularly well done). It’s not until the last 20 minutes that the author finally gets around to explaining how it’s spread. I thought that if the author could spend the time to patronizingly explain supply and demand economics, he could have surely bothered to take a few minutes to explain what yellow fever does to the body that actually causes the symptoms (some of the symptoms are very interesting, I’d like to know why).

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent

I never knew about yellow fever's effect upon American and world history. Fascinating! A nice quick listen of information that will stay with me forever.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Slow Narrator

A very quick little volume despite the narrator's terrible pacing. The story itself was not that interesting and I felt there was no actual narrative arc, rather just a regurgitation of facts and news clippings.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Nice story, not the best narrator

What did you like best about An American Plague? What did you like least?

The story was well done with many quotes from people who lived through the horror. I did not like the choice of reader, the reading is too plodding/careful. He uses inflections with his voice going up and down, but reads at the same pace as if he were reading to a metronome.

Would you be willing to try another book from Jim Murphy? Why or why not?

I would try the author again. The subject is interesting and the writing style is comfortable.

What didn’t you like about Pat Bottino’s performance?

The reading sounds forced and unnatural lacking the speed variations common in most readings. He is very careful in pronunciation. The reading style just doesn't feel comfortable to me.

Was An American Plague worth the listening time?

Yes. I learned a lot about that time in history, the plight of the poor, the heroic efforts of nurses many of whom were black, and how life changed because of this plague.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The book is good

The book is good but I don’t like how is says 6 chapters when there is like twenty of them in total

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Very Disappointing

My middle school class is reading this book, so I bought the audible for them to listen to instead of hearing me read aloud. The chapters in the audible don't align with the book. I couldn't find where the book's chapter 2 was in the audible, and we weren't able to use the audible at all.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Chapters are off from the book to audio

The sound and such are great, but the audio has missing parts in it or long silences. Also the Ch. 3 link is actually Ch. 6 in the book? Surely this is easy to fix, but you cannot fix it if you do not know there are problems.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An American Plague

I loved this and think adults as well as teenagers will like it. Keep washing your hands. Cough Into your elbows and know that this stuff happened before, and will again.

It was 1793, 19 years before my Dad, was born. Not so long ago a after-all.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

An entire book of headlines

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. It's monotonous. At least on audiobook. There are a lot of good pieces of information in there, but the reading is like having headlines shot at you.

What was one of the most memorable moments of An American Plague?

When the Black churches rose up to care for their white neighbors. I had not known that.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Had Bottino read the book before he read it aloud? There are no highs and lows. It all has the same tension and tone which makes it monotonous and boring. A real feat when you are talking about the Yellow Fever and the decimation of the capital of a new country. Oi. If someone with Patrick Tull's care and patience had read it, it would have been much better. I had to stop listening.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Dear gods, no. The illnesses are described in minute detail and it's enough to turn your stomach. As it should be. It's about a plague after all.

Any additional comments?

It's too bad the narration is so poor. It's a really interesting topic and deserves better.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

An American Plague

This was an interesting read but was not as scientific as I was hoping for.I found Mr Bottinos narration rather dry.