Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the Immigrant Menace

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JHU Press, Mar 1, 1995 - Medical - 369 pages
2 Reviews
Epidemics and immigrants have suffered a lethal association in the public mind, from the Irish in New York wrongly blamed for the cholera epidemic of 1832 and Chinese in San Francisco vilified for causing the bubonic plague in 1900, to Haitians in Miami stigmatized as AIDS carriers in the 1980s. Silent Travelers vividly describes these and many other episodes of medicalized prejudice and analyzes their impact on public health policy and beyond. The book shows clearly how the equation of disease with outsiders and illness with genetic inferiority broadly affected not only immigration policy and health care but even the workplace and schools. The first synthesis of immigration history and the history of medicine, Silent Travelers is also a deeply human story, enriched by the voices of immigrants themselves. Irish, Italian, Jewish, Latino, Chinese, and Cambodian newcomers among others grapple in these pages with the mysteries of modern medicine and American prejudice. Anecdotes about famous and little-known figures in the annals of public health abound, from immigrant physicians such as Maurice Fishberg and Antonio Stella who struggled to mediate between the cherished Old World beliefs and practices of their patients and their own state-of-the-art medical science, to "Typhoid Mary" and the inspiring example of Mother Cabrini. Alan M. Kraut tells of the newcomers founding of hospitals to care for their own the "Halls of Great Peace" (actually little more than hovels where lepers could go to die) set up by Chinese immigrants; the establishment of St. Vincent's Hospital in New York as an institution sensitive to the needs of Catholic patients; and the creation of a tuberculosis sanitarium inDenver by Eastern European Jewish tradespeople who managed to scrape together $1.20 in contributions at their first meeting. Tapping into a rich array of sources - from turn-of-the-century government records to an advice book aimed at Italians financed by the DAR, from the photographs of Jacob Riis to the records of insurance companies and visiting nurse services, as well as poems, songs, stories, and letters of patients - this book evokes an intimate sense of the poignancy of the immigrant odyssey. Amid growing concern over using AIDS to exclude immigrants and ongoing debates about multi-culturalism, this look at how earlier generations struggled with such problems is especially valuable.
  

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Review: Silent Travelers: Germs, Genes, and the Immigrant Menace

User Review  - Fredrick Danysh - Goodreads

The author explores how diseases and germs influence isolated populations when introduced by outsiders. Helps to explain the decrease of the Native American population after contact with whites for the first time. Read full review

Contents

The Double Helix of Health and Fear
1
Irish MidCentury 11
31
That Is the American Way And in America You Should Do
105
Fighting the Stigma of
136
Public Schools
226
Classification of Excludable Medical Conditions
273
Credits
346
Copyright

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