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The Fever: The Most Fatal Plague in American History

by Lon Wagner

In the summer of 1855, the nation cast its eyes on the working-class port of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. A ship named the Benjamin Franklin had steamed in from the West Indies harbor of St. Thomas—where yellow fever had hopped from ship to ship that winter—and tied up at a dock for repairs. The ship unleashed the seeds of an epidemic on an unsuspecting population, and it didn’t take long for the first victims of yellow fever to fall. In the 100 days from late June 1855 until the first frost quelled the mosquito population, residents of the two cities confronted an unknown and unseen airborne stalker that killed one of every three people. "The Fever" is the never-before-told story of the deadliest epidemic in American history. It’s the story of a summer when the only things that mattered were life and death.

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