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Publisher's Summary

In this fresh approach to the history of the Black Death, John Hatcher, a world-renowned scholar of the Middle Ages, recreates everyday life in a mid-14th-century rural English village.

By focusing on the experiences of ordinary villagers as they lived - and died - during the Black Death (A.D. 1345-50), Hatcher vividly places the listener directly into those tumultuous years and describes in fascinating detail the day-to-day existence of people struggling with the tragic effects of the plague. Dramatic scenes portray how contemporaries must have experienced and thought about the momentous events - and how they tried to make sense of it all.

©2009 John Hatcher; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This book uses a bit of fiction, mixing it with [Hatcher's] vast knowledge to illuminate that catastrophe." (Bookviews.com)
"The core of the story - the plague's effect on the lives of everyday people - is as true as can be surmised, nearly 700 years later." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.6 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Runefell
  • FAIRMONT, MN, United States
  • 02-26-14

Obviously written by a Historian

Any additional comments?

As a whole, after finishing this book, I found myself understanding the Black Death from the ordinary people's point of view better, the fears and hysteria before, the trials during, and the fall out afterwards. There is a lot of humanity in this book. Unfortunately, the author is very obviously a historian first, and a storyteller a distant second. <br/><br/>Getting to the point often took longer then it should have. There's a lot of good information in this book, but you'll often have to sit through trivial fact reading and, often times quite literally, church sermons. Many of the points put forward are repeated several times, and some of it seems like the author is trying to work some medieval court records in. The introduction itself is almost an hour long snoozefest, and there's author notes before every chapter that often contain spoilers on what's going to happen in this chapter.<br/><br/>All in all, it's informative, makes you feel for the poor people who were so terrified in the face of something they couldn't understand or prevent, but it could've easily skipped or condensed a lot of the boring bits.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful narration for history geeks

This book is a brilliant mixture of fact and fiction, which the author Hatcher explains in his very frank preface, making it an award-winning history of the Black Death in Europe. Drawing from the unprecedentedly thorough archival records of a single county in England, this book will not tell you much about the 14th century plague anywhere else, but it does a remarkable job of describing it in medieval England. The narration is also very pleasant. Listeners who are not history geeks may find some of the story tiresome, overly detailed, or somewhat confusing, as Hatcher aimed to reconstruct medieval English village life as well as the plague's effects on it, but for a historian like myself this is a superb audio book.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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an iteresting and informative account

this book gives a face to counless numbers who died in the black death.d
one feels the strugles of the survivers as well as the overall social and political changes that followed the plague.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sally Davis
  • RUSSELL SPRINGS, KY, United States
  • 08-15-17

The worst narration ever

This book has the worst narration I've ever gotten from Audible.

The narrator mumbles a lot of the time. I listen while working in the kitchen and/or house and to understand him, I've had to increase the volume well beyond what is comfortable.

I bought the book without listening to the sample. That was a mistake.

The content of the book appears so far to be great.

  • Overall
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Informative on many levels!

This is a great read (listen). Hatcher does an excellent job of fleshing out 14th century Catholicism in England. He successfully portrays the efforts the Church and individuals performed to escape the oncoming plague. He then details the horror of the plague and its aftermath. He then shows how the nobility and the church tag teamed to keep down a rising peasantry who wanted more freedom and greater wages. This would be a great read for a class on the Middle Ages. The audible narration was also excellent.

  • Overall

Too Dry for a "Fiction"

I thought this would be a good listen, being written by a historian. Unfortunately, it is written like a history, and a very boring one at that. I found myself nodding off, as the author would get caught up in the minutae of land inheritances and other subjects. He spent much time at the beginning explaining that it was a fiction, but he didn't treat it like one. I told friends who are interested in the subject to steer clear of it...

11 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • george
  • ann arbor, mi USA
  • 10-22-14

good story

Where does The Black Death rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

middle

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no

Any additional comments?

to much time spent at the beginning explaining to his academic friends that he was not writing a historical novel when he actually was. Way too much time.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • GK
  • 07-30-11

Black Death? What Black Death?

I've listened to 3 hours of this and so far the black death hasn't even been mentioned. All there has been is a long and dull account of a priest's life story and an even longer and duller death scene (not from the plague). It is too dry to be called good fiction writing, and despite the author's intention to focus the story around a "good" priest I am so far apathetic towards him and certainly have no warm feelings for this main character. I could easily forgive the bad story-telling part if it was a good historical book but so far I'm finding that it's not. Unless you are interested in the minute details of a Catholic death scene in the 14th century you won't find anything of interest, at least in the first 3 hours of this audiobook.

This is a small point, but I don't know what possessed the publishers to have an American narrate a story about a Medieval East Anglican village??

I'm really disappointed and wish I had not downloaded this.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful