The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco

The Barbary Plague The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco The veteran Wall Street Journal science reporter Marilyn Chase s fascinating account of an outbreak of bubonic plague in late Victorian San Francisco is a real life thriller that resonates in today s

  • Title: The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco
  • Author: Marilyn Chase
  • ISBN: 9780375757082
  • Page: 470
  • Format: Paperback
  • The veteran Wall Street Journal science reporter Marilyn Chase s fascinating account of an outbreak of bubonic plague in late Victorian San Francisco is a real life thriller that resonates in today s headlines The Barbary Plague transports us to the Gold Rush boomtown in 1900, at the end of the city s Gilded Age With a deep understanding of the effects on public health oThe veteran Wall Street Journal science reporter Marilyn Chase s fascinating account of an outbreak of bubonic plague in late Victorian San Francisco is a real life thriller that resonates in today s headlines The Barbary Plague transports us to the Gold Rush boomtown in 1900, at the end of the city s Gilded Age With a deep understanding of the effects on public health of politics, race, and geography, Chase shows how one city triumphed over perhaps the most frightening and deadly of all scourges.

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      Posted by:Marilyn Chase
      Published :2020-04-19T10:26:46+00:00

    About "Marilyn Chase"

    1. Marilyn Chase

      Marilyn Chase Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Barbary Plague: The Black Death in Victorian San Francisco book, this is one of the most wanted Marilyn Chase author readers around the world.


    1. The City of San Francisco (we always cap the "C" in City) has always had an air of naughtiness, which is why it was known as the Barbary Coast. Before the discovery of gold in California, Yerba Buena was just a nice hilly area with a fantastic harbor, the "Golden Gate". But once the Gold Rush began, the settlement became a very big deal indeed, with few laws, much corruption, and a reckless lifestyle that came from knowing the ground underneath one's feet could disappear at any moment."The peopl [...]

    2. The premise is interesting: bubonic plague strikes turn of the century San Francisco, Chinese immigrants are unfairly blamed and persecuted. If it was an article in Vanity Fair, or the New York Times Sunday Magazine, I would read it, the whole thing (even to the the continued page at the back, where some really long VF articles lose me). But when I started this late Saturday night, I found it to be so horribly over-written that I just didn't care enough to keep going. Example: "Cable cars scaled [...]

    3. The spread of disease is part virulence, part human imperfection and ignorance, as conveyed elegantly by Chase's text. The book carries the story like a journal scrawled by an observing physician, with thick detail, atmosphere, and technical comprehension of the public health issue at hand. The serious nature of the body clashes somewhat with a few occurrences of inflated and flourished language in an attempt to add color to a potentially dry subject, but Chase does an excellent job of turning h [...]

    4. Chase does an admirable job with a somewhat uncooperative historical event — the plague in San Francisco waxed and waned over nine years and doesn’t provide a ready-made narrative.

    5. I found this book to be quite informative, as author Marilyn Chase utilized her skills as a veteran Wall Street Journal science reporter to describe how during the first decade of the 1900's San Francisco fell victim to bubonic and pnuemonic plague. I was never aware of how hard the disease hit my beloved city, nor even that California has been host numerous times to outbreaks. San Francisco during the beginning of the twentieth centure was feeling growing pains much like other young cities, as [...]

    6. It's a good bet that even folks who live in San Francisco may not know of the outbreak of bubonic plague the city suffered at the early part of the 20th century. Borne by infected fleas that feasted on the blood of the harbor city's large rat population, the plague claimed many victims initially in the Chinatown area, then slowly spread to other parts of the city. This presented the city with not only a public health problem, but also a public relations one: San Francisco's wealthy merchants wer [...]

    7. I am a huge fan of books about fighting disease, so this was a great book. Plus, it is more than a micro-history of plague at the turn of the century in San Francisco. It also includes a brief history of the evolution of our understanding of the plague (and some huge discoveries about the disease occurred in the ~8 years that this book covers), a history of San Francisco, a history of Chinese immigration into the area (and the resulting xenophobia), a history of public health and how it evolved, [...]

    8. This was a very interesting account of an episode in US history that I had never heard about -- the bubonic plague epidemic in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. It may have been only through a quirk of flea anatomy and the hard work of some very dedicated public health officers that we were able to avert the large-scale epidemics that have ravaged so many other nations. While the fight against the plague would seem to be a cause everyone should have rallied behind, it was complicated by racism, [...]

    9. From 1900 to 1909, the bubonic plague took 190 victims in San Francisco. Beginning in Chinatown (corner of kearney and jackson), the fear of plague spread throughout the city. Public health officials squabbled while the city became rife with the infectious Norway rat, exacerbated by the earthquake and subsequent fires of 1906. First Kinyoun, then Rupert Blue, established sanitary procedures that kept the plague at bay. But the greatest factor that prevented thousands of deaths was the difference [...]

    10. Describes the plague outbreak in San Francisco at the turn of 20th century. Scientists were still figuring out how plague passed from person to person. This book describes some of the discoveries related to how it is transmitted. Fascinating read. Great case study in epidemiology.For those who think life 100 years ago was cool, read this book, you will come away with a different view. Parts of San Francisco were quite filthy, The Hunter's Point area was crawling with ten's of thousands of rats.

    11. Fascinating tale of bubonic plague's entry into the United States in early 20th century San Francisco, the search for its source and containment, and the social ramifications of the outbreak. Absolutely engaging, and the author -a health and science writer for the WSJ - balances her science and journalistic expertise to write an informative but never intimidating narrative of one of history's most intriguing pandemics. And for those who wonder why plague "no longer exits"ad on.

    12. The bubonic plague outbreaks of 1900-1908 are a forgotten footnote in San Franciscan history, lost amidst the drama of the city's early Gold Rush years and the trauma of the great earthquake of 1906. Yet for those eight years, the city was in the grip of the United States' first outbreak of plague, which affected almost all life in San Francisco, exacerbating existing tensions and highlighting smouldering issues of racism, xenophobia, greed, and ignorance.This is largely the story of the public [...]

    13. Well written with none of the needless histrionics that far too much non-fiction now shoves in, so a refreshing read. Describes the epidemic of bubonic plague in San Francisco (1900-1904+) in language, without tables, charts and diagrams (ok, one map). Considering how devastating bubonic plague has been for centuries, it is a little startling to be reminded that it was not until this outbreak and its treatment that knowledge of the disease was confirmed and reliable treatments developed. It was [...]

    14. Good historical look at how San Francisco reacted to an outbreak of plague in the late 1890's/early 1900's. The writing is good and the story has a scarily familiar ring to it--politicians deny, deny, deny, and people pretend the plague outbreak isn't happening because it's "bad for business." Racism also plays its ugly part when the first outbreak is blamed on Chinatown.I wasn't familiar with this event at all so all of it was new to me. I liked reading about how the doctors figured out what wa [...]

    15. A decent enough read, but it felt thin and a bit rushed. I was definitely interested in the history, but the focus on the medical personnel might have been overdone. Then again, I'm not sure what kind of records exist from this time period due to the 1906 Earthquake.

    16. It was okay, but I agree with other reviewers who said that the prose is overwrought. I also thought that the narrative wasn't as gripping as I would have liked.

    17. I'm a native Californian. From the time I was young, I had a keen interest in history. The experience of Chinese immigrants was largely glossed over in school. The emphasis was, "Chinese built the railroad. A lot of them lived in San Francisco. They dealt with racism and laws prevented immigration for many years, and there weren't many Chinese women. But things are better now!"The Barbary Plague should be required reading for any Californian. Heck, any American. This book made me so angry at tim [...]

    18. This was a part of San Francisco history that I had not known about, despite coming from a long line of San Franciscans. I think that the Drs. Joseph Kinyoun and Rupert Blue along with their team need to have a brass plaque or some sort of commemoration to the work they did to save the City and try to prevent the spread of plague into the Western states (where, by the way it lingers still). 401 Fillmore is where "the Rattery" and the laboratory stood where Rupert Blue fought his war on the plagu [...]

    19. I picked this book up second-hand because I love reading about San Francisco. Little did I know what a treat I had discovered! Did you know the plague is endemic to the US? No - neither did I. Chase illuminates a terrifically interesting period in the history San Francisco, roughly 1900-1910. At this time, the fledgling CDC was called in to arrest the spread of bubonic plague which had arrived via ships from Honolulu. Bacteriology was a very new science at the turn of the century and chase does [...]

    20. I find that certain rather obscure topics will suddenly be everywhere around me. Early 1900s San Francisco has been stalking me of late in everything from history programs on the 1906 earthquake to podcasts about the architecture style of Chinatown…which was rebuilt after the earthquake. In case you are a big earthquake fan, let me reassure you – it’s in here too! It’s hard to pin this book down into a narrow category. Yes, it’s about bubonic plague, but it’s also about casual racism [...]

    21. Sheds light on forgotten historyThe bubonic plague in San Francisco? Chinatown burnt to the ground in Hawaii? And a fence of barbed wire put around the Chinatown in San Francisco?I've lived my whole life in the SF Bay Area and never even heard about those events. Common history highlights 1849 and 1906 as the only interesting thing to happen in San Francisco. But there is much more. And Jan 1900 is one of those dates. When the SS Australia brought the plague to SF. Due to greedy politicians tryi [...]

    22. Indeed the electric cars hardly “jingle” as can be well experienced by the clangor that you’ll year if you visit the cable car museum on the corner of 1201 Mason and Washington Streets. These sentences are probably the height of the author’s “over-writing” but the writing gets much better. There is a great deal of research and it’s interesting to see so much history. However the historical background of the people on the scene is of American white only. It would be interesting to s [...]

    23. Most people don't know that the US averted a serious nation-wide epidemic in 1900. Social, cultural and psychological issues prevented public health officials from curtailing the outbreak and risked a tragedy for the nation. The plague began in Chinatown and virtually all the buildings had to be destroyed.The book is well-written and worth reading. It gets a little tiresome at the very end, but held my interest the whole way through. One thing I felt was very interesting. The first official from [...]

    24. Having lived in San Francisco, I have heard much about the 1906 earthquake and fire. But I had never heard about the plague epidemic that had simmered since 1900 and exploded because of conditions in the aftermath of the quake and fire; nor of the efforts that brought the epidemic under control. And little did I realize that plague that is endemic in wild rodents in the west is a result of this epidemic. The book is very interesting but doesn't seem to focus. It is in some ways a biography of Dr [...]

    25. A surprisingly enjoyable book about a tragic -- and, at times, infuriating -- subject. Shortly before and during the Great Earthquake of 1906, the Bubonic Plague was unleashed on San Francisco, killing hundreds and requiring a huge investment in public health measures. This book tackles the initial reports, when its prevalence in Chinatown (with a huge rat population) brought up ancillary issues that needed considered, such as cultural background (autopsies were anathema to the Chinese), racism [...]

    26. I'd just finished Daughter of Fortune and was telling my step daughter about it. She is into books about health and the causes of the lack thereof, and said I might enjoy this as a follow up.It is sort of a detective/political/cultural mix of a book, because it took detective-like work to figure out the cause of the plague (rats) and where the rats were coming from, then why it was that rats created the plague. Political, because the powers that were in place found it easier to deny their was a [...]

    27. A well-researched work of history rendered as a dramatic (some might say florid) thriller. How is bubonic plague spreading and can the public health officials stop it before it's too late? Chase makes the science and policy behind the subject fascinating and the personalities involved vivid. Having lived through the AIDS plague in San Francisco, I found myself getting quite emotionally involved. I raged when reading thatsome businessmen opposed or mocked efforts to control the fast-spreading pla [...]

    28. Ok - I'm a total sucker for SF history fact, most urban history in general. I love the historical element, but the author is WAY TOO flowery, dramatic and overly romanticizes the characterske here: "Chinese poured through the lines, their lean faces awash with joy and relief. For the first time in two weeks, workers returned to their jobs - shelves were restocked, tables set, and hollow bellies filled." Maybe I'm a bit old-school, but please provide the facts M'am(of which there are hardly any n [...]

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