Who Doesn't Love a Plague? A book by Jim Murphy

Seriously, An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 was entirely fascinating. Like brain porn or something. I love medical weirdness and plagues and boils and gross stuff. So this book had me from the title. I decided to outline what a few chapters accomplish and how. A dissection of sorts.

Ch. 1: Setting the stage with a vivid visual backdrop and details to ground the “story” in what the reader may already know of history. The voice is dramatic, mysterious. “No one knew ...” heavy with threat.

Ch. 3: Rising panic is shown with quotes and details like the bells being silenced and this being “too much like the eternal silence of the grave.” Evocative yet unadorned.

Ch. 4: Everyone is now leaving the city. The effect of a stalled government, the inept response, societal panic is depicted with a cliffhanger chapter ending.

The story is gripping from beginning to end. Not mere facts, but human story with characters who appear throughout. Details are interwoven with quotes from research whenever possible. Now this is how to write nonfiction, people. Read and learn.