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The Black Death

The Pocket Essential Guide
Narrated by: Peta Masters
Length: 3 hrs and 30 mins
Categories: History, European
4 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Black Death is the name most commonly given to the pandemic of bubonic plague that ravaged the medieval world in the late 1340s. From Central Asia the plague swept through Europe, leaving millions of dead in its wake. Between a quarter and a third of Europe's population died. In England the population fell from nearly six million to just over three million. The Black Death was the greatest demographic disaster in European history.

Sean Martin looks at the origins of the disease and traces its terrible march through Europe from the Italian cities to the far-flung corners of Scandinavia. He describes contemporary responses to the plague and makes clear how helpless was the medicine of the day in the face of it. He examines the renewed persecution of the Jews, blamed by many Christians for the spread of the disease, and highlights the bizarre attempts by such groups as the Flagellants to ward off what they saw as the wrath of God. His book is a vivid and dramatic account of one of the great catastrophes of history.

©2007 Pocket Essentials (P)2009 Summersdale Publishers Ltd

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sean
  • BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States
  • 11-30-09

Factual overview, little analysis

The book is essentially an accounting of how many people died in which countries during which years of the plague. Not much beyond that.

One can not expect tremendous depth in a "pocket guide" but this still felt very light on analysis and insight. The last chapter or two are devoted to discussion of why the plague was so bad, but even this is a mere cataloging of theories rather than an analysis. Theories like "maybe it wasn't bubonic plague" and "maybe it was a space virus from a meteor!" are presented on equal footing and treated with the same credibility.

It's a handy primer on the what, when and where of the plague, but you could get just about as much from Wikipedia.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rick
  • Folly Beach, SC, USA
  • 03-05-10

Concise yet detailed overview

This is a well articulated overview of bubonic plague in late midieval Europe including the political and social effects it brought. It's an informative and easy listen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful