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In the surrounding towns, moreover, Mullen has set loose the dark, intolerant, anti-German, pro-war forces of the period. It is sobering to be reminded now of the violently repressive American Protective League, actually sponsored by the Department of Justice, or the sedition acts that forbade citizens to say anything “disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive” about the government or the war effort. Outside the quarantined village, as the story progresses, a superpatriotic anger begins to close in with the same deadly fury as the influenza.

This is a book about what fear (we may want to say “terror”) does to people. It is also a bleak and unforgiving mirror held up to the American character. Max Byrd