Stephen Coss

discusses

The Fever of 1721:
The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics

This event includes a book signing

Date

Apr
5
Tuesday
April 5, 2016
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store and Mass Humanities welcome debut author STEPHEN COSS for a discussion of his book The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics, praised by Kirkus Reviews as "a fascinating glimpse inside the Boston mindset of the era.”

About The Fever of 1721

More than fifty years before the American Revolution, Boston was in revolt against the tyrannies of the Crown, Puritan Authority, and Superstition. This is the story of a fateful year that prefigured the events of 1776.

In The Fever of 1721, Stephen Coss brings to life an amazing cast of characters in a year that changed the course of medical history, American journalism, and colonial revolution, including Cotton Mather, the great Puritan preacher, son of the president of Harvard College; Zabdiel Boylston, a doctor whose name is on one of Boston’s grand avenues; James and his younger brother Benjamin Franklin; and Elisha Cooke and his protégé Samuel Adams.

During the worst smallpox epidemic in Boston history Mather convinced Doctor Boylston to try a procedure that he believed would prevent death—by making an incision in the arm of a healthy person and implanting it with smallpox. “Inoculation” led to vaccination, one of the most profound medical discoveries in history. Public outrage forced Boylston into hiding, and Mather’s house was firebombed.

A political fever also raged. Elisha Cooke was challenging the Crown for control of the colony and finally forced Royal Governor Samuel Shute to flee Massachusetts. Samuel Adams and the Patriots would build on this to resist the British in the run-up to the American Revolution. And a bold young printer James Franklin (who was on the wrong side of the controversy on inoculation), launched America’s first independent newspaper and landed in jail. His teenage brother and apprentice, Benjamin Franklin, however, learned his trade in James’s shop and became a father of the Independence movement.

One by one, the atmosphere in Boston in 1721 simmered and ultimately boiled over, leading to the full drama of the American Revolution.

Praise

Intelligent and sweeping . . . The people portrayed in this public health story, their struggles and interactions, feel at once intimate and urgent, thanks to Coss’ lucid telling of this fascinating story.” —Booklist

“Coss's gem of colonial history immerses readers into 18th-century Boston and introduces a collection of fascinating people and intriguing circumstances. The author's masterly work intertwines Boston's smallpox epidemic with the development of New England Courant publisher James Franklin's radical press. . . . Unlike many other works on colonial America . . . Coss's focus on a specific location at a specific time fleshes out the complex and exciting scene in sharp detail, creating a historical account that is fascinating, informational, and pleasing to read.” —Library Journal

Stephen Coss
Stephen Coss

Stephen Coss

The Fever of 1721 is Stephen Coss’s first book. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

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Co-Sponsored by Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities

Mass Humanities conducts and supports programs that use history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to enhance and improve civic life in Massachusetts. Learn more at masshumanities.org.

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Featured event books will be for sale at the event for 20% off. Thank you for supporting this author series with your purchases.
General Info
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info@harvard.com

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