The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics

The Fever of The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics More than fifty years before the American Revolution Boston was in revolt against the tyrannies of the Crown Puritan Authority and Superstition This is the story of a fateful year that prefigured t

  • Title: The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics
  • Author: Stephen Coss
  • ISBN: 9781476783086
  • Page: 401
  • Format: Hardcover
  • More than fifty years before the American Revolution, Boston was in revolt against the tyrannies of the Crown, Puritan Authority, and Superstition This is the story of a fateful year that prefigured the events of 1776.In The Fever of 1721, Stephen Coss brings to life an amazing cast of characters in a year that changed the course of medical history, American journalism, aMore than fifty years before the American Revolution, Boston was in revolt against the tyrannies of the Crown, Puritan Authority, and Superstition This is the story of a fateful year that prefigured the events of 1776.In The Fever of 1721, Stephen Coss brings to life an amazing cast of characters in a year that changed the course of medical history, American journalism, and colonial revolution, including Cotton Mather, the great Puritan preacher, son of the president of Harvard College Zabdiel Boylston, a doctor whose name is on one of Boston s grand avenues James and his younger brother Benjamin Franklin and Elisha Cooke and his protegee Samuel Adams.During the worst smallpox epidemic in Boston history Mather convinced Doctor Boylston to try a procedure that he believed would prevent death by making an incision in the arm of a healthy person and implanting it with smallpox Inoculation led to vaccination, one of the most profound medical discoveries in history Public outrage forced Boylston into hiding, and Mather s house was firebombed.A political fever also raged Elisha Cooke was challenging the Crown for control of the colony and finally forced Royal Governor Samuel Shute to flee Massachusetts Samuel Adams and the Patriots would build on this to resist the British in the run up to the American Revolution And a bold young printer James Franklin who was on the wrong side of the controversy on inoculation , launched America s first independent newspaper and landed in jail His teenage brother and apprentice, Benjamin Franklin, however, learned his trade in James shop and became a father of the Independence movement.One by one, the atmosphere in Boston in 1721 simmered and ultimately boiled over, leading to the full drama of the American Revolution.

    One thought on “The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics”

    1. Extensively researched and well written, The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics is far more than a straight-forward history of the smallpox outbreak. Coss documents the outbreak and the struggle to test what would become a revolutionary preventive, but the smallpox epidemic is also a springboard to the story of the evolution of the press and the colonies fight with their Mother Country across the ocean.One of the strongest aspects of this book are the [...]

    2. This is a fascinating snapshot of New England society during the early 1700s. While the book's central point is the smallpox epidemic and eventual inoculation, the focus is not at all that narrow. Within and surrounding this topic, we explore relationships, politics, medical care, and religion. The writing is clear and concise, and the content exceptionally well researched. I found the author's style thoroughly engaging. It's not at all a dry, textbook kind of read. Instead, I felt like I was im [...]

    3. This book discusses the Boston smallpox epidemic of 1721 as a nexus of political, religious and scientific controversy, but in ways that confound our expectations. We are presented with a pioneering newspaper (with cub reporter Benjamin Franklin inventing Silence Dogood), advancing the cause of freedom of the press in opposition to overbearing imperial authority and in opposition to a dogmatic religious extremist proposing - the cutting-edge medical miracle of inoculation.Resistance to imperial [...]

    4. If I could give 6 stars I would. 10 years in being written, this is a volume that takes a "small" bit of history and shows how it reverberates decades later. "Small" because a smallpox epidemic is not "small" but tragic (as those of us 70 and over know; the young should give thanks that they do not know of this disease, which has killed more people than all wars put together, leaving others horribly scarred, blind, and mentally deficient). OK, so we have the epidemic of smallpox not the first no [...]

    5. I guess you know you're a history geek when you can get outraged on behalf of people who've been dead for more than 200 years. Coss does a great job of capturing a particular moment in colonial America, when a smallpox outbreak in Boston inspired a few brave souls to experiment with inoculation, an experiment that set off a public outcry and served a larger purpose. That outcry, according to Coss, had a lasting impact on ideas about freedom of the press that would inspire a generation of Bostoni [...]

    6. I really enjoyed this short book on early 18th century Boston. The title of the book is a bit deceiving as you would think the entire book is about the smallpox epidemic. While there is a great deal on the epidemic and the inoculation debate, a great deal of the book deals with the controversies and fights between the royal governor, colonial government, and the newspapers (specifically James Franklin's). I had never read about this time period in Boston, and it truly was the foundation of what [...]

    7. (Disclosure: I received this book for free in return for an unbiased review. I am not required to write a positive review. The opinions that follow are my own)I love reading history books, especially for the time period of the founding of our nation. I knew about the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Siege of Boston, the Sons of Liberty, etc but what I never really understood was this: what was it about the Boston, Massachusetts area that made it such a hotbed for the fight for American [...]

    8. This book was difficult for me to slog through. I was reminded of college text books that only the fear of an upcoming midterm could force me to finish. And yet I gave it three stars? How do I justify such a rating when I had no joy in the reading of it?This book was an incredibly researched, and did an amazing job showing how small pox and journalism overlapped and influenced change in the colonies. I've managed to avoid doing much In depth reading about the state of the colonies pre-revolution [...]

    9. I listened to this as an audio book. I was particularly interested in the smallpox epidemic and the discovery of vaccination and was led to believe this would be the major topic covered in this book. this was not the case.I did not like the narrator, Bob Souer. I found his tone to be very flat and expressionless. This made it hard to follow what was going on. I also thought the author Stephen Cross, could not make up his mind what the book was really about. He could have benefited by making this [...]

    10. I want to give this more stars, but this is another one of those efforts that tries to make a super strong connection between a certain event and a huge political event, and I didn't buy it.I was fascinated by the parts that centered on the smallpox epidemic of 1721 in Boston and the first formal inoculation efforts by Dr. Boylston. Cotton Mather's role in this was equally compelling.Separately, Coss' treatment of James Franklin and brother Benjamin, James' printing business, and the politics th [...]

    11. A meticulously well-researched book about pre-Revolutionary America. Three things are focused on during one year in Boston -- the first attempts at inoculating the citzenry against smallpox by a courageous doctor, the beginnings of a free press and the birth of strong political parties. The epidemic and one if its main proponents is a leading Puritan--in itself surprising since they were so close-minded. The story is interesting and educational, but it is tedious and slow reading.

    12. This first book by Stephen Coss is an imperfectly realized but fascinating account of a series of historical events of which I was previously unaware, surrounding the 1721 Boston smallpox epidemic and its influence on subsequent U.S. history. Most Americans are aware that Benjamin Franklin began his career as a printer's apprentice and ran away to Philadelphia. However, I was unaware that Franklin's brother James was a leading opponent of smallpox vaccination (an understandable position at the t [...]

    13. In The Fever of 1721, author Stephen Coss brings to life the city of Boston Massachusetts in 1721: its political atmosphere, religious leanings and the smallpox epidemic that came crashing onto the scene. When inoculation was put forth as a means to combat the epidemic many feared it would instead spread the disease further. These opinions found voice in a new periodical titled the New-England Courant, published by James Franklin and his soon-to-be famous brother Benjamin. Coss does a fine job o [...]

    14. I read an adult nonfiction book that wasn't a memoir--it's a miracle!I had every intention of skimming this one, until the next thing you know, I'm at 30% on my Kindle. Fascinating stuff here, and this history minor ended up highlighting a lot of passages. I started reading it because I had quite a few ancestors living in Boston and Cambridge during this time, and I wanted to learn more about the time period. Crazy to think that the Franklins and their newspaper were like the Colbert of their ti [...]

    15. I'm really glad I read this book! It sparked an interest in diseases for me. That being said, the title should be altered to "revolutionized WESTERN medicine" since it was made quite clear that the revolutionary medicine (inoculation) was in very successful use in many other parts of the world, and nothing new was discovered. I really enjoyed how the book focused on how the spread of such a monumental discovery was impeded by religious factionalism and press wars (featuring James and Benjamin Fr [...]

    16. After learning about the book in a giveaway, I picked up a copy of the just released "The Fever of 1721" at the Strand Bookstore in NYC. Stephen Coss has done a commendable job in researching and breathing new life into a key year in our country's history almost 200 years ago.The reader learns just how big of heroes (and at tremendous risk to themselves and families) that Dr. Zabdiel Boylston and Cotton Mather were. Coss tells the tale of how inoculation was introduced into the United States to [...]

    17. Not so much history of live small pox vaccination in the eighteenth century but more about the beginnings of the concept of freedom of the press. Largely about Ben Franklin's brother, James. He had his own place in history.

    18. I would have never thought that such descriptive, provoking writing about a smallpox epidemic could be so fascinating. This book packs so much information about Boston in the early 18th century; the role of local newspapers and their reportings, the changing political tides that greatly detained inoculation procedures, the understandable fear of said inoculation procedures and those willing participants that risked death itself in order to possibly stave off the horrible, disfiguring disease of [...]

    19. The hype for the book makes a somewhat tortured connection between the epidemic and politics, but makes it. I found it fascinating to read what happened in one city in one pivotal year. For the first time in America, people were inoculated against a contagious disease - smallpox. For the first time, a newspaper really stirred the pot, posting opposing opinions about the inoculations and other matters. This is the birth of freedom of the press, and James (and Benjamin) Franklin brought it forward [...]

    20. I liked it well enough, but was disappointed because this book is really about early struggles for a free press in Massachusetts; smallpox and inoculation were presented as one of the factors in that struggle. I would have enjoyed a more in depth look at the epidemiology of smallpox at that time and the history of inoculation. One of the interesting points, that I wish had been more deeply explored, was that inoculation had been used for hundreds of years in parts of Africa and Asia, yet was rej [...]

    21. Interesting book. Two distinct story arcs relevant to contentious topics today. The first arc is about acceptance and risk of inoculation (precursor to vaccination) to slow aggressive diseases (smallpox in this case) through a population. The second, and more dominant, arc is freedom of the press to publish without censorship, pre-revolutionary concepts that arose in New England. Even before this era of "fake news" and a hard dialog over limits to free, this tug of war was occurring.

    22. American schools do not teach what Coss has written about: the intersection of Puritanism, freedom of the press, the British governance along with purchasing native American warriors, the role Cotton Mather, religion-scientist played along with Dr. Boynton in early inoculation. A fascinating read -- recommend for all the gaps in our American history.

    23. Portraying interesting historical periods through individuals and their stories is a great method, well executed here. If you think vaccination is controversial now, give this a read! It's engaging and educational.

    24. It was interesting at first, but then it got tedious. The author repeated a good deal and belabored many points. Everything was from the male point of view, as things were in the 1700's. I made it to page 140, up to chapter 13. I'm sure many history majors would like it.

    25. At times this book was tedious and slow going but well researched. I particularly enjoyed learning about how printing and the newspaper played into the smallpox epidemic and the politics of the time.

    26. I found that the book did a better job with the story of inoculation than it did with the changing role of newspapers and the impact of both on the beginnings of Revolution. Makes sense,as the inoculation story tended to be more empirical in nature.

    27. This is a fascinating story of smallpox, Cotton Mather & his ill-fated involvement in the Salem witch trials, Benjamin Franklin's older brother & his printing press, & the Puritans' battle to maintain their hold on Boston before the Revolution.

    28. Inoculation, the education of Benjamin Franklin, pre-revolution politics and Cotton Mather. A great look at early American history

    29. Gosh this was a dry book. It was a lot to do with politics with a narrative of' he said this; she said that'. Generally I like this kind of book but not this one.

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