Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Pox and the Covenant
So, who knew: that Harvard had an Indian college, that gloves were sent to people's homes if one was invited to a funeral, that Bostonians spent a fortune on importing wood each year, that James Franklin (Ben's other brother) came out strongly against the smallpox innoculation in his newspaper and that Ben later became a huge advocate of it after he moved to Philadelphia. At the heart of the book is a look at the largest outbreak of smallpox in colonial America in Boston in 1721 and the fight that ensued between, among others, Cotton Mather and Benjamin Franklin (all of 16 at the time). Dr. Boylston came up w. a cure where one would infected with the disease, become a bit sick and then overcome it. Only 6 of 400 died from this method, whereas nearly 900 died of the actual disease. Honestly a perk of this blog is that publishers send me free books and ask me to post write-ups. Since I hate to put up items that cost, I rarely accept the book or the job. But this book is AMAZING. It is very well written - really I didn't know I cared about smallpox outbreaks (!) and gives super detail on daily life. It's also a very quick read.



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Monica Sharma

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