Plague and Fire Battling Black Death and the 1900 Burning of Honolulu's Chinatown

ISBN-10: 0195311825
ISBN-13: 9780195311822
Edition: 2006
Authors: James C. Mohr
List price: $33.95
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Description: A little over a century ago, bubonic plague--the same Black Death that decimated medieval Europe--arrived on the shores of Hawaii just as the islands were about to become a U.S. territory. In this absorbing narrative, James Mohr tells the story of  More...

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Book details

List price: $33.95
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 8/17/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 256
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.50" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.748
Language: English

A little over a century ago, bubonic plague--the same Black Death that decimated medieval Europe--arrived on the shores of Hawaii just as the islands were about to become a U.S. territory. In this absorbing narrative, James Mohr tells the story of that fearful visitation and its fiery climax--a vast conflagration that engulfed Honolulu's Chinatown. Mohr tells this gripping tale largely through the eyes of the people caught up in the disaster, from members of the white elite to Chinese doctors, Japanese businessmen, and Hawaiian reporters. At the heart of the narrative are three American physicians--the Honolulu Board of Health--who became virtual dictators when the government granted them absolute control over the armed forces and the treasury. The doctors soon quarantined Chinatown, where the plague was killing one or two people a day and clearly spreading. They resisted intense pressure from the white community to burn down all of Chinatown at once and instead ordered a careful, controlled burning of buildings where plague victims had died. But a freak wind whipped one of those small fires into a roaring inferno that destroyed everything in its path, consuming roughly thirty-eight acres of densely packed wooden structures in a single afternoon. Some 5000 people lost their homes and all their possessions and were marched in shock to detention camps, where they were confined under armed guard for weeks. Next to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Chinatown fire is the worst civic disaster in Hawaiian history. A dramatic account of people struggling in the face of mounting catastrophe, Plague and Fire is a stimulating and thought-provoking read.

Acknowledgments
Prologue
The World Plague Epidemic of the 1890s
The "Existing Government" of Hawaii
The Arrival of Pestis
The Government's Plague Fighters
Quarantine
December's Debates and "a Sad Christmas Present"
The Decision to Use Fire
Public Health Policy and the "Great Doctors' Meeting"
Fighting with Fire
The Burning of Chinatown
Detention Camps
The Triumvirate Struggles On
The Frustrations of Mopping Up
Aftermath
Notes
Index

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