Focusing on a transformative era in medicine, politics, and urban society, Wang uses rabies to survey urban social geography, the place of domesticated animals in the nineteenth-century city, and the world of American medicine. Rabies, she demonstrates, provides an ideal vehicle for exploring physicians’ ideas about therapeutics, disease pathology, and the body as well as the global flows of knowledge and therapeutics. Beyond the medical realm, the disease also illuminates the cultural fears and political contestations that evolved in lockstep with New York City’s burgeoning cityscape.
Mad Dogs and Other New Yorkers offers lay readers and specialists alike the opportunity to contemplate a tumultuous domain of people, animals, and disease against a backdrop of urban growth, medical advancement, and social upheaval. The result is a probing history of medicine that details the social world of New York physicians, their ideas about a rare and perplexing disorder, and the struggles of an ever-changing, ever-challenging urban society.