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March 28, 1977

The Black Death

JAMA. 1977;237(13):1379. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270400083034

It's Hard to Leave While the Music's Playing,  by I. S. Cooper, 285 pp, $7.95, New York, Norton, 1977.Two new fine novels add to the long list of fiction written by physicians. These two are especially important because each not only tells a good story but presents a serious controversial problem. Both will be read for their interest and excitement and then will lead to discussion and, possibly, clearer thinking.The Black Death, coauthored by Cravens, a professional writer, and Marr, an internist, epidemiologist, and director of New York City's Department of Preventable Diseases, tells a terrifyingly plausible story of a fictional outbreak of plague in New York City. The earnest, well-planned efforts of the health department to contain the epidemic are hindered by bureaucratic red tape, indecision by persons in high office, and political machinations. The efforts of the Surgeon General, a black woman, are hampered by Central