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The Black Angels


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About the Author

A New York City native, Maria Smilios has a Masters of Arts from Boston University in Religion & Literature. Smilios was a science-book editor when she discovered the Black Angels and was invited to tell this little-known story by one of the surviving nurses. Maria currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina. This is her first book.


*New York Times*

I am blown away by this book ... this is a story I did not know ... these women risked their own lives. It is a fabulous story - everything that I love, it's untold history, it's looking at the world from a different perspective. This is a story that needs telling and it IS being told. It's about women whose names have been forgotten - until now. I am so passionate about it
*Sandi Toksvig BBC Two Between the Covers*

Wonderfully told, both informative and passionate, this is an invaluable restoration of another of history's racially biased omissions
*Diana Evans*

A breathless... illuminating conquest-of-disease narrative

Vivid... The nurses' tenacity in the face of harsh working conditions and pervasive racism is humbling and inspiring... A book that deserves reading and remembering in the pandemic age
*New York Times Book Review*

Their triumphant story has until now been almost completely neglected
*The Bookseller*

I've never read anything like The Black Angels, a tale of medical horror and heroism that recalls The Hot Zone as much as it does Hidden Figures. Smilios plunges the reader into the festering tuberculosis wards of 1930s New York, where death was airborne, inevitable - until a few brave nurses changed the lives of millions... extraordinary
*Jason Fagone, author of The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America's Enemies*

Immensely rewarding...[A] confluence of histories, encompassing public health, urban development, race, class, and social upheaval...[Smilios] blends all of the threads she followed into a big blistering narrative that takes readers into the lives of an exceptional group of individuals whose personal stories are as compelling as the disease they confronted was deadly. Informative, enthralling, and sometimes appalling, this is history at its best
*Booklist, starred review*

Edna, Missouria, and Virginia answered a call for nurses and changed the world. These courageous women who desegregated hospitals and tamed an airborne killer at last receive necessary, poignant recognition in Maria Smilios' exquisitely rendered history
*Sarah Rose, author of D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II*

With a detective's tenacity, Maria Smilios pays tribute to the Black Angels, that compassionate cadre of nurses whose meticulous record keeping helped buttress the clinical trials that led to a pivotal breakthrough in the treatment of tuberculosis. She weaves their personal journeys with their professional devotion to the indigent, incurable patients whose care became their cause even as they were unwelcome in most American hospitals because of their race
*A'Lelia Bundles, author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker*

Extraordinary...Written with an astute grasp of the medical facts surrounding TB, [the] book eloquently highlights the humanity of the nurses who were recruited from the segregated South to provide care for people with TB in the hospital when nobody else would...Smilios is a rare combination of rigorous scientist and an exquisite writer...[A] must-read for anyone in the TB field but also for those who wish to gain a better understanding of the factors that drive current health disparities
*The Lancet*

Based on personal interviews and archival research, Smilios's poignant account exposes a prolonged and shameful episode in medical history
*BBC History Magazine*

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