In March 1900, Dr. Joseph James Kinyoun, a surgeon with the Marine Hospital Service and the founder of the Hygienic Laboratory, which became the National Institutes of Health, discovered bubonic plague in San Francisco. His finding led to an immediate outcry from the governor, local and state politicians, and the city’s commercial interests. In the hyper-sensationalized journalism of San Francisco’s newspapers, Kinyoun was ridiculed, leading to death threats and a $50,000 bounty on his head. Eventually, California’s quarantine caused an enormous uproar.
By the time a special federal commission produced a report (initially withheld from the public, leading to charges of a coverup) that vindicated Kinyoun, a deal had been brokered wherein the pioneering doctor was removed from his post.
This book tells a timely story about yellow journalism, coverup, corruption, the struggle between science and politics, and the consequences of blind denial of the truth.