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Top 10 Most Popular Books on Yellow Fever

Updated: Jun 8

Awareness of health risks is essential when planning international travel. One such risk is yellow fever, a disease often requiring vaccination when journeying to specific regions.

For those wanting to understand more on this illness, here are 10 most popular yellow fever books available on goodreads which provide fascinating looks at this disease over time.

The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History (by Christopher Wills)

Follows yellow fever through history, focusing on the horrific 1878 outbreak in Memphis that killed thousands more than the Chicago fire, the San Francisco earthquake, and the Johnstown flood combined. It vividly depicts the panic and heroes that emerged as the disease paralyzed the city, shaping America. Still a threat, its story cautions about the power of disease while revealing human strength when facing crises.

Purchase from goodreads here

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 (by Jim Murphy)

Revisiting Philadelphia’s harrowing 1793 yellow fever epidemic, this book illuminates the disease claiming thousands as fear, courage and self-sacrifice collided within a young America. With no scientific understanding of the invisible killer, we get a vivid glimpse into the helplessness yet steadfastness of society and medicine before such mysteries of nature and creation. Stories emerge, loss transforms into grace.

Purchase from goodreads here

Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793 (by J.M. Powell)

First-hand accounts plunge readers into Philadelphia’s unfathomable horrors during its 1793 devastation by yellow fever. As wave after wave died absent any cure, terror and chaos consumed the capital. This history lays bare humanity stripped to its skeleton – facing an unrelenting plague, confronting questions of purpose and meaning when science fails and prayers go unanswered. Grit battles despair and humanity hangs in the fragile balance.   

Purchase from goodreads here

Yellow Fever, Black Goddess: The Coevolution Of People And Plagues (by Christopher Wills)

Examines yellow fever not just as modern scourge but an ancient disease that quietly mutated in animals and insects for ages before emerging to strike humans. It reveals the secret history of pathogens that suddenly turn epidemic. Understanding their complexity better equips humanity in the ongoing struggle to contain viruses and bacteria’s lethal potential.

Purchase from goodreads here

Yellow Jack: How Yellow Fever Ravaged America and Walter Reed Discovered Its Deadly Secrets (by John Robinson Pierce, Jim Writer)

Celebrates Walter Reed’s heroic 1900 mission proving mosquitoes transmitted yellow fever, a killer ravaging tropical America for centuries. It tells how Reed’s team bravely risked their lives allowing themselves to be infected to test theories. Unlocking its deadly secrets led to lifesaving cures, advancing medicine and alleviating suffering worldwide.

Purchase from goodreads here

America's First Plague: The Deadly 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic That Crippled a Young Nation (by Robert Watson)

This recounts the 1793 yellow fever epidemic devastating Philadelphia and challenging  the young nation. With slow government response, public doubt, and fractured 

leadership, it captures society breaking down but also pulling together amid tragedy. It extracts tough lessons about equality, governing, and medicine’s restrictions from this 

overlooked crisis altering America’s early days.

Purchase from goodreads here

Yellow Fever and the South (by Margaret Humphreys)

Explores how recurring yellow fever outbreaks plagued 1800s Southern cities, killing thousands and thwarting commerce. Despite frustrated scientists and constant tensions between state and federal health authorities, Humphrey shows how galvanized reform eventually birthed public health boards and wider adoption of preventative medicine, broadening our understanding of America’s medical evolution.

Purchase from goodreads here

Yellow Fever (by Jean Lartéguy)

Follows Westerners undergoing personal revolutions amidst Vietnam’s 1960s chaos. Set against Saigon street battles and Hanoi’s demise, the war correspondents, generals and prostitutes wrestle with adventure, love, sanity, morality and liberation – with yellow fever a metaphor for the philosophy and ideals infecting foreigners drawn to Vietnam’s all-consuming sociopolitical conflagration during that era.

Purchase from goodreads here

The Doctors Who Conquered Yellow Fever (by Ralph Nading Hill)

Dramatizes the daring experiments by Army doctors in 1900 Cuba proving mosquitoes transmit yellow fever, unlocking the longstanding mystery behind the vicious virus plaguing the region. The fictionalized story celebrates Walter Reed’s heroic team risking their lives leading to one of medicine’s greatest public health victories.

Purchase from goodreads here

Epidemic Invasions: Yellow Fever and the Limits of Cuban Independence, 1878-1930 (by Mariola Espinosa)

Investigates how repeated yellow fever outbreaks in 19th century Cuba prompted quarantines halting American trade yet justified continued U.S. domination seeking island stability. Espinosa reveals an overlooked story of disease assisting geopolitics as Cuba’s fight against yellow fever became an exploitable opportunity for America’s rising foreign policy ambitions.

Purchase from goodreads here

Still.. Make Sure to Get Yellow Fever Vaccination!

While offering interesting reads, these books also serve as helpful reminders that getting vaccinated is vital for containing yellow fever, which still causes around 30,000 deaths annually in Africa. 

By staying up-to-date on your vaccine, you take a meaningful step to protect both yourself and vulnerable populations by preventing further spread. 

For reliable travel health advice, including guidance on typhoid fever vaccination, we recommend visiting Away Clinic, conveniently located in Chandler, Scottsdale, and Phoenix before embarking on your next international journey.


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