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THE SECRET OF THE YELLOW DEATH by Suzanne Jurmain

THE SECRET OF THE YELLOW DEATH

A True Story of Medical Sleuthing

By Suzanne Jurmain

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-618-96581-6

With plenty of gory details, Jurmain recounts the six months in 1900 when Dr. Walter Reed and his team of doctors in Cuba determined that mosquitoes carry yellow fever. Dangerous experiments helped them narrow their focus and eliminate other theories about the disease’s origin, but at the cost of the one young doctor’s death. Even reluctant readers will respond to the gruesome descriptions of the disease and of brave volunteers who wore blood-and-vomit–covered clothing in 100-degree heat to see if yellow fever could be passed on through cloth (it can’t). Quotations from the doctors’ letters and later accounts by other participants gives the story an immediacy heightened by conversational writing full of questions and cliffhangers. Almost every double-page spread features a black-and-white photograph of the players, their equipment or artifacts, with little photos of mosquitoes scattered throughout. Match this with Fever, 1793 (2000), by Laurie Halse Anderson, and An American Plague (2003), by Jim Murphy, both recommended as “Further Reading,” to complete this powerful exploration of a disease that killed 100,000 U.S. citizens in the 1800s. (appendix, glossary, endnotes, bibliography, index [not seen]) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)