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Red madness : how a medical mystery changed what we eat

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One hundred years ago, an epidemic spread across the American South, striking down young and old, men and women, black and white. The disease left its victims weak, disfigured, insane, and—in the worst cases—dead. No one knew its cause or how to treat it as it forged a path of terror through communities and families. Red Madness tells the story of how doctors, public health officials, and scientists finally defeated pellagra, “one of the most horrible, pitiful afflictions mankind has ever suffered.” The book includes stories about real pellagra victims based on early twentieth-century medical reports and newspaper articles; accounts of scientific investigations; sidebars on cotton mills, sharecroppers and tenant farmers, vitamins, the U.S. Public Health Service; more than 100 photographs, maps, and posters; a glossary; a timeline; recommended books and websites; an author’s note; source notes; a bibliography, and an index.

One hundred years ago, an epidemic spread across the American South, striking down young and old, men and women, black and white. The disease left its victims weak, disfigured, insane, and—in the worst cases—dead. No one knew its cause or how to treat it as it forged a path of terror through communities and families. Red Madness tells the story of how doctors, public health officials, and scientists finally defeated pellagra, “one of the most horrible, pitiful afflictions mankind has ever suffered.” The book includes stories about real pellagra victims based on early twentieth-century medical reports and newspaper articles; accounts of scientific investigations; sidebars on cotton mills, sharecroppers and tenant farmers, vitamins, the U.S. Public Health Service; more than 100 photographs, maps, and posters; a glossary; a timeline; recommended books and websites; an author’s note; source notes; a bibliography, and an index. Gail Jarrow’s nonfiction books have received numerous awards and distinctions, including a YALSA Award Nomination, Orbis Pictus Recommended Book, Kirkus Reviews Best Book, and a VOYA Honor Book. Red Madness is her fifth book for Calkins Creek. A graduate of Duke University and Dartmouth College, Gail has a degree in zoology and has taught science in grades four through eight. She lives in Ithaca, New York. Visit gailjarrow.com.

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