Winner of the Viseltear Prize of 2003 for best book, from the American Public Health Association.

Through an examination of  New York City’s 1892 twin epidemics – typhus and cholera – Professor Markel studies the nature of quarantine, the stigma of disease, and the scapegoating of vulnerable populations.

From Library Journal: Markel supports very effectively his assertion that although the epidemics were indeed public health threats, the quarantine of the Jewish immigrants had more to do with prejudice, class distinctions, and political scapegoating than with the consistent employment of the scientific method

From The New England Journal of Medicine: Beautifully written and thoroughly researched, Quarantine! will appeal to both general readers and specialists in the field.

More Reviews

Quarantine! unites the best of the two worlds of social history and clinical history in a narrative style so personal and at times gripping that a reader forgets that the book is meant primarily to be a scholarly text . . . Markel is as much spinning a complex yarn as he is writing a scrupulously researched chronicle.”–Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D., New Republic

“Markel does the best job I have seen of depicting the experience of the quarantined–as well as explaining something of the political and etiological/prophylactic debates that framed and legitimated the quarantine itself. Along the way he makes substantive contributions to Jewish history, urban history, and public health history.”–Charles E. Rosenberg, University of Pennsylvania

“In Quarantine! Howard Markel traces the course of the typhus and cholera epidemics that swept through New York City in 1892. The story is told from the point of view of those involved-the public health doctors who diagnosed and treated the victims, the newspaper reporters who covered the stories, the government officials who established and enforced policy, and, most importantly, the immigrants themselves. Drawing on rarely cited stories from the Yiddish American press, immigrant diaries and letters, and official accounts, Markel follows the immigrants on their journey from a squalid and precarious existence in Russia’s Pale of Settlement, to their passage in steerage, to New York’s Lower East Side, to the city’s quarantine islands. At a time of renewed anti-immigrant sentiment and newly emerging infectious diseases, Quarantine! provides a historical context for considering some of the significant problems that face American society today.”Beautifully written and thoroughly researched . . . This is a fine piece of history with a timely and thoughtful message; it deserves a wide readership among both health care professionals and professional historians.”–Nancy Tomes, New England Journal of Medicine

“One of the major strengths of the book is the balance between the social construction of disease and the biological realities of illness . . . Quarantine! therefore provides an important cautionary tale not only for historians, but also for medical professionals who need to deal with modern epidemics in a rational and humane manner.”–Heather Munro Prescott, New York History

“With vivid brush strokes Markel sketches in many of the colorful personalities who figured in his tale . . . Quarantine! is a fascinating and moving account.”–Betty Falkenberg, Pakn Treger

Hardcover: The Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0801855128
Paperback (1999): The Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0801861802


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