Chills and Fever

Health and Disease in the Early History of Alaska

By Fortuine, Robert

6 x 9, xvi + 393 pages, black & white photos, illustrations, maps, bibliography, index

Format: Paper

Price: $23.95

Published: 1989

The history of medicine emcompasses the whole range of human life, society, and endeavor. In this ambitious book, Robert Fortuine leads readers through the early history of Alaska by tracing the health of its people. He presents a concise summary of the health aspects of traditional Alaskan cultures and reconstructs the best available picture of the various diseases from which people suffered up to the time of first European contact.

His narrative follows the often uneven growth of health services in Alaska, including the ships' surgeons on the earliest voyages of exploration, the unique health care system of the Russian-American Company, and the American medical missions in the hectic times of the Gold Rush. He offers sketches of the health problems that have the most profound impacts on Alaska history, including smallpox, influenza, syphilis, tuberculosis, and alcohol abuse.

Chills and Fever belongs in the libraries of health workers, historians, anthropologists, and anyone with an interest in this unique and informative perspective on Alaska's past.

Robert Fortuine is a physician who has spend 22 years in Alaska, most of them as either a clinician or a hospital director with the Indian Health Service. In 1989, he joined the faculty of the Biomedical Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he teaches clinical medicine to the first-year medical students in the Washington/Alaska/Montana/Idaho (WAMI) program affiliated with the University of Washington Medical School. He has written extensively on the history of medicine in Alaska and the arctic regions. The Alaska Historical Society named him Alaska Historian of the Year in 1990 in recognition of his book Chills and Fever.


"Chills and Fever should be required reading for anyone in the health field in Alaska, and is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the state's history. (Juneau Empire)

"A fascinating study that adds a new and important dimension to our understanding of Alaska's social history." (Pacific Northwest Quarterly)