• Black Death at the Golden Gate

  • The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague
  • By: David K. Randall
  • Narrated by: Charles Constant
  • Length: 7 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (99 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A spine-chilling saga of virulent racism, human folly, and the ultimate triumph of scientific progress.

For Chinese immigrant Wong Chut King, surviving in San Francisco meant a life in the shadows. His passing on March 6, 1900, would have been unremarkable if a city health officer hadn't noticed a swollen black lymph node on his groin - a sign of bubonic plague. Empowered by racist pseudoscience, officials rushed to quarantine Chinatown while doctors examined Wong's tissue for telltale bacteria. If the devastating disease was not contained, San Francisco would become the American epicenter of an outbreak that had already claimed 10 million lives worldwide. 

To local press, railroad barons, and elected officials, such a possibility was inconceivable - or inconvenient. As they mounted a cover-up to obscure the threat, it fell to federal health officer Rupert Blue to save a city that refused to be rescued. 

In the tradition of Erik Larson and Steven Johnson, best-selling author David K. Randall spins a spellbinding account of Blue's race to understand the disease and contain its spread - the only hope of saving San Francisco, and the nation, from a gruesome fate.

©2019 David K. Randall (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about Black Death at the Golden Gate

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Plague, Racism, Public Health..a toxic mix.

David Randall's book does an excellent job in giving background on Bubonic plague as an illness that goes back centuries. I'm a registered nurse, so anything dealing with public health is very interesting to me. The book details an outbreak of bubonic plague in turn of the 20th century San Francisco. Doctor's trying to get to the bottom of this outbreak had to contend with racism against Chinese, concerns about loss of money to businesses in San Francisco and California. One of the best medical related books I have read since the Hot Zone and The great INfluenza.(Both very good books also worth your time)

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good book with adjusted audio

very interesting informative, well-written historical novel with good leadership lessons for public health. I slowed the audio to .85x which made the narration sound much more natural. I enjoyed it very much after doing that.

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Phenomenal History Information

Could not turn this off!! concerned at first about a medical history - this was so well written it was engaging from the first "page". Annoying to have to stop for any reason. Learned so much about San Francisco area. I will surely read it again in future.

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totally relevant in this pandemic age

Super well written. Great history of early 1900's San Francisco and California. Greed and racism made it so hard for scientists to control a plague outbreak. Much like today!!

1 person found this helpful

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Plague, Politics and Racism

It was interesting to read some California history that was completely new to me. I really enjoyed this book and found some parallels to what is happening with the current pandemic.

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Very Interesting

It's extremely interesting story and the history is great....especially if the reader has ties or familiarity with San Francisco. It does seem to drag on a little towards the end. Would have been a slog to read...but a really fun and interesting listen. The reader will certainly learn about the history of the gold rush, the SF fire, and what life (and sanitation) was like in the mid to late 1800s and early 1900s

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See the PBS show then give the book a listen.

I really enjoyed the details of the many personalities involved in this epic tale. San Francisco comes off as a rich raw city sadly ruled by greedy whites ready to exploit and blame the Chinese. Lessons that are echoed in our own time. Great insights into the motivations of many of the heroes and villains of the era.

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A history of Black Death in the U.S.

This was a fascinating book. I couldn't help from drawing a comparison to our modern day pandemic and the politics and racism of those who played
fast and loose with peoples lives. Nothing has changed in over a hundred years. I think this would be a great book for high school students to be required to read. I hope more people will listen to the lessons written down here.

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  • Samantha cross
  • 07-26-19

Enthralling

This book was well written and interesting, it grabbed my attention straight away. It’s a concise history of an outbreak that would scare us yet the fight to get the powers to be to overcome politics has echoes today. Well worth a listen xxxx