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A Pestilence on Pennsylvania Avenue


The Impact of Disease Upon the American Presidency

David R. Petriello

Scandals and cover-ups have been associated with Washington D.C. and the presidency since the earliest days of the republic. From the Whiskey Ring to Monica Lewinsky, these have usually centered on corruption or adultery. Yet a far deadlier and more pervasive influence has struck the White House time and time again—disease. Presidents, vice presidents, their families and their cabinets have been stricken by an assortment of ailments over the past 230 years. Some of these have caused personal issues, while others have driven national policy. A few have caused or ended wars, and others have led to enormous cover-ups that are just beginning to be revealed. A Pestilence on Pennsylvania Avenue explores all of the surprising ways in which illness has impacted not only the presidency, but through it, the entire nation and its history. From George Washington to Barack Obama, pestilence has indirectly ruled the People’s House for over two centuries, an influence that will no doubt continue, despite science and the media, well into the future.

Sections include:


Chapter 1   Gelding the Stallion of the Potomac                               

Chapter 2.   Lobelia, Lead, and the Rise and Fall of Old Hickory                     

Chapter 3.   Bacterial Assassination                                                       

Chapter 4.   Presidential Cover-Ups                                                    

Chapter 5.   The First Female President                                                           

Chapter 6.   An Accessory to Assassination                                           

Chapter 7.   A Medical Amendment                                                    

Chapter 8.   A Camelot of Contagion                                         

Chapter 9.   My Kingdom for a Cure                                                   

Chapter 10.  Second in Line, First in Health                                         

Chapter 11.  Illnesses of the First Ladies                                                           

Chapter 12.  First Family Maladies                                           

Chapter 13. The First Citizen                                                   


Chapter Notes                                                                           



About the Author  


A Pestilence on Pennsylvania Avenue sheds a new light on the the oft-written topic of presidential history in an exciting, intriguing, and provocative way.  It provides a new lens for examining the effects of disease on our commanders-in-chief, and is a must-read for historians, students, and history buffs alike.” - Reverend Joshua S. Goldfarb, Teacher of History and Civics

"A Pestilence on Pennsylvania Avenue is a thorough and fascinating account concerning the impact of disease on American history. Through the use of interesting cases and anecdotes, Dr Petriello sheds light on an area of inquiry that has heretofore been largely ignored. His fluid and approachable style makes the pages fly by. It is a great read." - Dr. Domenic Maffei, Chair, Department of History and Political Science, Caldwell University

"Dr. Petriello's journey through American history reveals the extraordinary impact that disease has had upon our nation and its leaders. As a history teacher, I consider this to be an amazing resource  that my students will no doubt enjoy as much as I did." - Aruna Mathura, History Teacher 


Format: 6" x 9" paperback on permanent paper, printed in the United States
Pages: 204
ISBN 10: 1-939995-17-5
ISBN 13: 978-1-939995-17-9
LCCN: 2016039285
Price: $19.95 (Bulk order rates are available upon request)

About the Author

David R. Petriello, author of "A Pestilence on Pennsylvania Avenue"

 DAVID R. PETRIELLO was born in 1980 in MontclairNJ. He finished his BA in Asian Studies at Seton Hall University before going on to receive a Masters in History from Montclair State and a Doctorate in History from St. John’s University. Previous books include American Prometheus: Ronald Reagan and the Modernization of China, The Military History of New Jersey, Bacteria and Bayonets: The Impact of Disease on American Military History, The Days of Heroes Are Over: A Brief Biography of Richard Mentor Johnson, and The Dragon at War: A General Military History of China. He teaches at Caldwell University in New Jersey.

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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 02 September, 2016.

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