Black Death at the Golden Gate Summary and Reviews

Black Death at the Golden Gate

The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague

by David K. Randall

Black Death at the Golden Gate by David K. Randall X
Black Death at the Golden Gate by David K. Randall
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Book Summary

A spine-chilling saga of virulent racism, human folly, and the ultimate triumph of scientific progress.

For Chinese immigrant Wong Chut King, surviving in San Francisco meant a life in the shadows. His passing on March 6, 1900, would have been unremarkable if a city health officer hadn't noticed a swollen black lymph node on his groin―a sign of bubonic plague. Empowered by racist pseudoscience, officials rushed to quarantine Chinatown while doctors examined Wong's tissue for telltale bacteria. If the devastating disease was not contained, San Francisco would become the American epicenter of an outbreak that had already claimed ten million lives worldwide.

To local press, railroad barons, and elected officials, such a possibility was inconceivable―or inconvenient. As they mounted a cover-up to obscure the threat, ending the career of one of the most brilliant scientists in the nation in the process, it fell to federal health officer Rupert Blue to save a city that refused to be rescued. Spearheading a relentless crusade for sanitation, Blue and his men patrolled the squalid streets of fast-growing San Francisco, examined gory black buboes, and dissected diseased rats that put the fate of the entire country at risk. In the tradition of Erik Larson and Steven Johnson, Randall spins a spellbinding account of Blue's race to understand the disease and contain its spread―the only hope of saving San Francisco, and the nation, from a gruesome fate.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A fascinating, in-depth look at a little-known episode in American history... The story of the bubonic plague outbreak serves as an excellent lead-in for Randall to examine the advances that created modern cities." - Shelf Awareness

"A complex tale of medicine, politics, race, and public health...[one] that resonates with the outbreak of measles, mumps, and other supposedly contained epidemics today." - Kirkus Reviews

"Underscoring how prejudice, complacency, and willful ignorance can be as dangerous to public health as bacteria, Randall spins an action-packed and stirring tale." - Publishers Weekly

"David K. Randall is a spellbinding writer. He has turned a critical chapter of medical history into a riveting tale that reads like a detective novel, chock-full of scandals and intrigue." - Randi Epstein, author of Aroused

"A haunting detective tale packed with villains and heroes, Black Death at the Golden Gate shows how bigotry and greed almost brought a major U.S. city to ruin―and how science and courage saved it. The events in this book may be a hundred years old, but its message is as urgent as ever." - Jason Fagone, author of The Woman Who Smashed Codes

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Author Information

David K. Randall

David K. Randall is a senior reporter at Reuters. The New York Times best-selling author of Black Death at the Golden Gate, Dreamland, and The King and Queen of Malibu, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

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