5 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
Raj M. reviewed The Great Mortality : An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time (P.S.) on
Helpful Score: 2
Very interesting and absorbing book, the author talks of the plague like it was an invading army and how it sweeps over the land. Also interesting are the glimpses into the daily lives of people in Europe during the black plague.
At some points he get a little carried away discussing the geography of
Europe, and you find yourself continuously fliping back to the map in the front of the book. However, he also makes the "Black Death" more real by putting names and details of individuals' livlihoods in. You become transported back to the fourteenth century.
A fascinating history of the devastating 14th century plague outbreak. The author brings the period to life with details of daily life and personal accounts. At times, the descriptions can be quite graphic, so it is not recommended as mealtime reading.
This book was on my wishlist for some time because I was genuinely interested in the Black Plague period of history. This book made me seriously question my interests, not because of gruesome details but because the book is so dry. The author spends almost 100 pages describing the geography of Europe and Asia in excruciatingly painful detail, but I persevered. He personified the plague virus as some sort of nomad wandering around Europe, infecting whenever and wherever it liked. Occasionally he sprinkled little vignettes about a person's experience with the plague here and there, but nearly smothers the readers' interest by layering heavy doses of statistics and percentages and other boring facts on top. In one memorable chapter he points out the ill treatment of the Jews when angry Europeans blamed them for the plague, but not before he systematically points out every single crime against the Jewish people since 66 AD, and goes on for 20 pages before finally getting back to his point. This book really reads like a dry textbook and has no discernible plot to it (yes, even nonfiction books can have a plot). Finally the author throws in big, medical words that will send you running for a dictionary. I hope there are better books about the plague out there, because this isn't one of them.
"In October 1347, at about the start of the month, twelve Genoese galleys put in to the port of Messina [Sicily]."
"So begins, in almost fairy-tale fashion, a contemporary account of the worst natural disaster in European history-what we call the Black Death, and what the generation who lived through it called 'la moria grandissima': 'the great mortality.' The medieval plague, however, was more than just a European catastrophe. From the bustling ports along the China Sea to the fishing villages of coastal Greenland, almost no area of Eurasia escaped the wrath of the medieval pestilence. And along with people died dogs, cats, chickens, sheep, cattle, and camels. For a brief moment in the middle of the fourteenth century, the words of Genesis 7:21 seemed about to be realized: 'All flesh died that moved upon the earth.'"