Cantor pulled together many different writer's work on the subject of the 'Black Death' that even someone with no knowledge understands the times before and after the plaque events in Europe. If you have knowledge of this time frame and subject material - I still think you would learn something that you didn't know. In the back of the book he includes about 10 pages of reference material which is divided into subject matter.
This book is a keeper for my library of reference books.
Pretty fascinating account of how the plague spread and changed populations and economies the world over.
This is not a well-written, historically accurate, or interesting book about the plague. In fact, very little mention is made of the plague amid the author's ramblings. He goes on at length about the perception of the royalty then and throughout history until the 20th century. He has similar digressions on serfdom, property ownership, the persecution of Jews, and other seemingly random topics. The book is rife with historical inaccuracies and off-hand comments that reveal the author's biases. A much better book about the plague is John Kelly's The Great Mortality.
This book is a sociological examination of the Black Plague's effect on medieval Europe. I read it because I am interested in the Plague, but it is barely mentioned. I learned a couple of new things in this book, but I found it rather dry and tedious. There is a lot of name-dropping of Kings, Princes, gentry, and courtiers and not remembering these individuals from history classes, I found it similarly hard to follow. This is a good read if you're into medieval Europe, but not so much for the plague.
An interesting book about how the plague in medievel times changed the course of history forever.
Excellent book, great information that wasen't dry, kept your interest while giving you great information. Book really shows the spread of the plague through the countries and how it was spread from person to person. Very interesting.
When a book about the plague of the 14th century begins with the claim the the "Ring around the rosie" rhyme is of medieval origin and refers to the plague, you know the author is very lazy in his scholarship. (The connection between the rhyme and the plague is generally believed to be mythical since the first written record of it is from the 18th century and the connection between the rhyme and the plague wasn't claimed until the 20th).
Unfortunately, errors and misinterpretations of facts seems to be Cantor's norm rather than the exception. Even when the facts are correct, the conclusions he draws from them are highly dubious. For example, an average life expectancy in the 40s did not mean that it was rare for someone to live past 50. It was quite common. The average life expectancy was so low because childhood mortality was high, not because individuals who survived to adulthood died relatively young.
He also has a tendency to go off onto peculiar tangents (connecting Thomas Aquinas with modern liberalism, for example) and inserting his rather eccentric perspective on current culture into his discussion of the medieval history that is supposed to be the topic of the book.
Oh, and the editing is bad. The same information is sometimes repeated on the same page or even, amazingly, the same sentence.
On the plus side, the book is short (only 220 pages) and easy to read. I finished it in a single day.
Read it if you wish, but don't take it too seriously.
I found this book to be a really interesting look at the CONSEQUENCES of the Black Death aimed at a general audience.
The subject matter is not a close examination of the plague itself and the book title is quite accurate in that...my opinion.
The author provides a good review of everyday life, politics and religion changed as a result of the upheaval caused by such a massive death.
He also provides a substantial bibliography to point the interested reader to works that cover various aspects of the "Black Death" which should satisfy the reader looking for a more in-depth study of various aspects of this subject.
He doesn't mention the actual plague much, as the other reviewers point out, probably because, as the title says, it's more about the time after the plague. The author looks a lot at the long term demographic and economic effects of the plague, which he argues didn't really have an effect until the 1370s. He does ramble a lot, but honestly, what are you going to say about a not-terribly-well documented event?