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From the Publisher“An extensive comparative study.”
A century ago, the third bubonic plague swept the globe, taking more than 15 million lives. Plague Ports tells the story of ten cities on five continents that were ravaged by the epidemic in its initial years: Hong Kong and Bombay, the Asian emporiums of the British Empire where the epidemic first surfaced; Sydney, Honolulu and San Francisco, three “pearls” of the Pacific; Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro in South America; Alexandria and Cape Town in Africa; and Oporto in Europe.
Myron Echenberg examines plague's impact in each of these cities, on the politicians, the medical and public health authorities, and especially on the citizenry, many of whom were recent migrants crammed into grim living spaces. He looks at how different cultures sought to cope with the challenge of deadly epidemic disease, and explains the political, racial, and medical ineptitudes and ignorance that allowed the plague to flourish. The forces of globalization and industrialization, Echenberg argues, had so increased the transmission of microorganisms that infectious disease pandemics were likely, if not inevitable.
This fascinating, expansive history, enlivened by harrowing photographs and maps of each city, sheds light on urbanism and modernity at the turn of the century, as well as on glaring public health inequalities. With the recent outbreaks of SARS and avian flu, and ongoing fears of bioterrorism, Plague Ports offers a necessary and timely historical lesson.
Part 1 Belle Époque and Bubonic Plague 1
Part 2 Asian Beginnings 15
1 An Unexampled Calamity: Hong Kong, 1894 16
2 City of the Plague: Bombay, 1896 47
Part 3 Plague at the Doors of Europe 79
3 The Plague Has at Last Arrived: Alexandria, 1899 83
4 They Have a Love of Clean Underlinen and of Fresh Air: Porto, 1899 107
Part 4 South American Settings 131
5 A Bubonic Plague Epidemic Does Not Exist in This Country: Buenos Aires, 1900 133
6 The Victory of Hygiene, Good Taste, and Art: Rio de Janeiro, 1900 156
Part 5 Plague under the Stars and Stripes 183
7 Plague in Paradise: Honolulu, 1899/1900 185
8 Black Plague Creeps into America: San Francisco, 1900/1901 213
Part 6 Plague under the Union Jack 243
9 The Inhabitants of Sydney No More Go Barefoot than Do the Inhabitants of London: Sydney, 1900 244
10 It Is a Miracle We Are Not Visited by a Black Plague: Cape Town, 1901 270
Part 7 Plague's Lessons 303
About the Author 349