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Extended Audio Sample The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox Audiobook, by Jennifer Lee Carrell Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (490 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jennifer Lee Carrell Narrator: Michael Prichard Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2012 ISBN: 9780385359979
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THE SPECKLED MONSTER is both a hair-raising tale of courage in the face of the deadliest disease that has ever struck mankind, and a gripping account of the birth of modern immunology. Jennifer Lee Carrell's dramatic story follows two parents who, after barely surviving the agony of smallpox themselves, flouted eighteenth-century European medical tradition by borrowing folk knowledge from African slaves and Eastern women in frantic bids to protect their children. Their heroic struggles gave rise to immunology, as well as the vaccinations that remain our only hope should the disease be unleashed again. Carrell transports readers back to the early eighteenth century to tell the tales of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Dr. Zabdiel Boylston: two iconoclastic figures who helped save London and Boston from this scourge. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 2/18/2014

    " This is a fictionalized account of smallpox in England and in Boston in the early 18th century. While many people are familiar with the story of Jenner and vaccination against smallpox using the cowpox virus, fewer people are aware of the process of variolation, which used small amount of smallpox to give the recipients a milder case which protected them from the disease. This was practiced in Africa, Turkey and the far east and was "rediscovered" and brought into practice by two brave people, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a survivor of this terrible disease. and Zabdiel Boylston, a doctor in Boston. Each took much risk to spearhead the use of this practice, and in some ways, suffered for their beliefs. The author has done an enormous amount of research into smallpox and the history of variolation and does a nice job of building a full story about each side rather than just a recitation of the facts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tamara | 2/18/2014

    " Non-fiction that reads as easily as a novel. Fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 RachelAnne | 2/13/2014

    " This dual narrative recounts how two scarred pioneers an ocean apart saved hundreds of lives: by injecting healthy people with one of the world's deadliest diseases. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrea | 2/9/2014

    " A piece of historical fiction/non-fiction following the parallel descriptions of the introduction of variolation in America and Britain in the 1700s. The historical events are fascinating in the years before Jenner elucidated cowpox vaccination for smallpox; however, I was not a fan of the use of fictional conversations and thoughts to describe historical events. That being said, the book captures the intense fear surrounding a smallpox epidemic and new medical interventions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 2/4/2014

    " The book starts out slowly but picks up as she gets into the subject. I really learned alot about smallpox. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Judith | 1/31/2014

    " I actually finished this book a few days ago. Anyone who feels squeamish about vaccinations should read this book. The doctors who took a chance on a smallpox vaccine were vilified by the public, pilloried in the press and were mocked by their colleagues. They continued their work in the face of threats against their lives and threats of imprisonment. Without these brave men and their patients, smallpox would still a threat to our world population. I find it interesting to note that smallpox has been eliminated but for several strains that are held in labs in the United States and Russia. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kris | 1/31/2014

    " Could not get into the first time I tried to read it. I stopped after a couple of chapters and returned the book. I started again for book club and started at chapter three. It worked better. I think the way the intro is done there are too many names and you don't know who is important. I went back and read the first chapter this time, and it made more sense after reading chapters three. I thought the book was really well done other than that. It bordered on a little too long and a little too wordy in points, but a really great story over all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sarah Kathleen | 1/31/2014

    " First of all, funny story about this book. Well, not so much funny as highly disappointing. I got a copy of the Speckled Monster from the library and started reading it. It was so good! A real page-turner, as they say. It's non-fiction, but written in a very fiction-based way - not just a rehashing of diaries and newspaper articles, but with characterization and story development. It reads much like a novel. I loved it. It was slow-going, because it's very dense and full of information about the beginnings of inoculation, in both England and the American Colonies. Then I turned a page, and the printer had taken pages 300-330 and replaced then with 269-99. So I had to track down a new copy through the wonderful Chicago Public Library system. So just a word of warning. Make sure you have a correct copy. But it's well-worth it. There's political intrigue, death, love, and lots of gross descriptions of smallpox sufferers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia dumas | 1/23/2014

    " Fantastic. Wonderful history, especially from Boston. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia | 1/17/2014

    " A well-presented historical fiction on the smallpox inoculation controversy in London and Boston in the eighteenth century. I thought Carrell combined both the factual and fictional in a cohesive and readable manner, even if the dialogue ran on too long in some chapters. Very informative. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim G | 11/27/2013

    " I really struggled with this one. It was good, but I just couldn't get into it. It was like reading a textbook for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Farfoff | 11/19/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 11/4/2013

    " Fabulous-- if you like your history with a little fictionalization. Mostly history-- only one, embarassing sentance that veers into bodice ripper territory in an otherwise great book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Morrigan | 10/28/2013

    " A very well written book of the beginnings of vaccinations. She writes this as a novel and therefore it is easy to read and very interesting. I would recommend this book especially if you are interested in history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 9/21/2013

    " What a great synopsis and story about how smallpox was cured. This happens in both New England and England at the same time and the sharing of info across the Atlantic helps 2 doctors fight the disease secretly. You learn a lot and enjoy the story all at once! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 7/21/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book - it was fascinating for me to learn about how people dealt with disease and sickness at that time in history...and how very superstitious they were! Interesting read, one of my faves. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsay | 3/12/2013

    " Interesting subject and not really my usual thing. But a very good popular history and interesting one you get into it and sort out who is who. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 LeAnne | 2/24/2013

    " Terrific story of finding the cure for small pox. Almost reduced to 4 stars because it took me so long to finish it but overall this is a must read for people who like history. Read like a novel. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Madeline Martin | 12/27/2012

    " I like learning about diseases hah... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynne | 12/24/2012

    " I enjoyed the book, but I wish that the author had focused on either the Boston or London epidemics. Jumping back and forth was annoying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lori | 12/16/2012

    " An eye-opening look at the devastation wrought by this disease and the struggles faced by those fighting for the practice of inoculation. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 11/5/2012

    " Loved the narrative structure of this small pox tale. Great mixture of history and drama. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 10/28/2012

    " This was really interesting to me. I was surprised to learn how hard it was to get society to accept the idea of a vaccine, in spite of clear proof that it worked. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Danielle | 7/20/2012

    " Interesting topic, but it was too slow of a read for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christie | 6/14/2012

    " Loved it! Who would have thought a book about small pox could be so fantastic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathy | 5/26/2012

    " fascinating account of the eradication of small box - really enjoyed it and learned something, too! "

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About the Author
Author Jennifer Lee Carrell

Jennifer Lee Carrell is the author of The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox, Interred with Their Bones, and Haunt Me Still. Carrell earned a PhD in English from Harvard, pulled into studying literature by the Aurthurian legend as well as Norse sagas and works by Tolkien and Shakespeare. She lives in Arizona with her family.

About the Narrator

Michael Prichard is a Los Angeles-based actor who has played several thousand characters during his career, over one hundred of them in theater and film. He is primarily heard as an audiobook narrator, having recorded well over five hundred full-length books. His numerous awards and accolades include an Audie Award for Tears in the Darkness by Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman and six AudioFile Earphones Awards. He was named a Top Ten Golden Voice by SmartMoney magazine. He holds an MFA in theater from the University of Southern California.