I purchased this book due to my interest in the Boston small pox epidemic and Cotton Mather's unlikely role in it. The "fever" of the title, however, refers less to the epidemic and more to the political fever of the restless colonies in the pre-revolutionary war era as reflected primarily in its press, both generally and in the person of James Franklin (older brother of Ben) and his New England Courant. In effect, Franklin and his literary progeny introduced to America the novel idea that the press ought to expose and critique the follies of the government and the religious establishment, not just to sing its praises. Coss believes the work of Franklin set off the events of the revolution fifty years later, and he is largely persuasive in his account.
What this work lacks, however, was any particular new information about the actual epidemic and the fight to introduce inoculation (which was opposed by much of the medical establishment of the time, primarily because "slaves and Asiatics" were the source of the concept) to fight off the epidemic. Mather was an early champion of inoculation, but he does not redeem himself in these pages. He comes off as the same self-interested coward he was during the Salem witch trials. While Coss describes him as "well-meaning," nothing he cites suggests Mather acted other than from self-interest (albeit a self-interest in line with potential sufferers of smallpox).
In any event, this is a crisp brief read without unnecessary flourish and is devoid of academic jargon. It is padded with material that follows up on the lives of the various main characters and their progeny through the revolutionary era, which has some intrinsic human interest but not particularly relevant to the work's thesis.