Horrors of History: People of the Plague book cover image

Horrors of History: People of the Plague

  • 1695

By: T. Neill Anderson

"Coughs and sneezes spread diseases."

"This was a flu that put people into bed as if they'd been hit with a two-by-four. That turned into pneumonia, that turned people blue and black and killed them. It was a flu out of some sort of horror story."
-Alfred Crosby, historian ("Influenza 1918." American Experience. PBS, 1988)

In 1918 a virulent strain of influenza effected the entire world. In Philadelphia alone it was estimated that 19,000 people died. In this historical novel, young readers follow the experiences of a few fictional characters living in South Philadelphia, the hardest hit section of the city due to its already unsanitary conditions in the tenement housing. Experience the terror, sorrow, and bravery of the city's residents.

Harriet and Harry are excited to be going to the Liberty Parade, rallying patriotism for the American troops heading to the war in Europe. Their friend Barium has just lost his mother to the flu. Soon, the entire city is felled by this plague. Thomas Ryan and his friends from seminary school help bury the dead-everyday hundreds more pour into the cemetery. And Sister Katherine works tirelessly to help the sick and dying. But adding to the tragedy of the epidemic is the corruption hanging over the city's government and an exhausted doctor tasked with maintaining the city's health code-woefully neglected.

People of the Plague is the third book in the historical fiction series, Horrors of History. The series commemorates horrific, life-changing events in our nation's past. Each novel makes history accessible with a combination of thorough research, descriptions of a specific time period, narrative accounts of actual historical persons, and fictionalized characters.

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Author & Illustrator Bios:

T. Neill Anderson, author

T. Neill Anderson is fascinated—and often horrified—by the countless true tales of America’s past stories. The Horrors of History series are his first books for young readers. He lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York.

Read more about T. Neill Anderson.

Editorial Reviews:


Anderson tells the tale of Harriet, Harry, and Barium, who live in South Philadelphia during the Spanish influenza pandemic that swept the globe in 1918. The crowded and often filthy tenement houses of urban neighborhoods and emergency hospitals that sprung up around Philadelphia during the height of the epidemic provide the backdrop as the protagonists come to terms with the loss of their parents to the virus. Many of the characters are fictionalized composites of real-life survivors, whereas others, such as Philadelphia physician Wilmer Krusen and mayor Thomas Smith, are real-life portrayals. Charts and maps of historical data share space with the fictional dialogue and plot twists, and period black-and-white photographs of the sick and dying, masked stretcher-bearers, and exhausted gravediggers punctuate the fast-paced narrative, providing an unflinching look at the horrors of the seemingly unstoppable virus. This typifies the historical novel that walks the fine line between fact and fiction.


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ISBN: 978-1-58089-518-7

ISBN: 978-1-60734-542-8 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-641-8 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 12 and up
Page count: 160
6 x 9

Correlated to Common Core State Standards:
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Literature. Grade 6. Standards 1-6 and 10.
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Literature. Grade 7. Standards 1-4, 6, 9, and 10.
English Language Arts-Literacy. Reading Literature. Grade 8. Standards 1-4, 6, and 10.
Enlgish Language Arts-Literacy. Literacy in History/Social Studies. Grades 6-8. Standards 1, 4-8, and 10.

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Horrors of History: Ocean of Fire
Horrors of History: Massacre of the Miners
The Great Molasses Flood