The Great North American Smallpox Epidemic 1775 - 1783
Elizabeth A. Fenn
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
During the years when the Revolutionary War transformed thirteen former British colonies into a new nation, a horrifying epidemic of smallpox was transforming—or ending—the lives of tens of thousands of people across the American continent. This great pestilence easily surpassed the war in terms of deaths, yet because of our understandable preoccupation with the Revolution and its aftermath, it has remained virtually unknown to us.
The destructive, desolating power of smallpox made for a cascade of public-health crises and heart-breaking human drama. Fenn explores the many different ways this megatragedy was met, and analyzes the consequences. Her book is a signal contribution to the study of infectious diseases which immensely increases our understanding of the interplay between devastating pestilence and historical change. And it transforms our picture of the American Revolution.