Rabies enjoys a fearsome and lurid reputation. Throughout the decades of spiraling growth that defined New York City from the 1840s to the 1910s, the bone-chilling cry of "Mad dog!" possessed the power to upend the ordinary routines and rhythms of urban life. In Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers, Jessica Wang examines the history of this rare but dreaded affliction during a time of rapid urbanization.
Focusing on a transformative era in medicine, politics, and urban society, Wang uses rabies to survey urban social geography, the place of domesticated animals in the nineteenth-century city, and the world of American medicine. Rabies, she demonstrates, provides an ideal vehicle for exploring physicians' ideas about therapeutics, disease pathology, and the body as well as the global flows of knowledge and therapeutics. Beyond the medical realm, the disease also illuminates the cultural fears and political contestations that evolved in lockstep with New York City's burgeoning cityscape.
Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers is a probing history of medicine that details the social world of New York physicians, their ideas about a rare and perplexing disorder, and the struggles of an ever-changing, ever-challenging urban society.
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