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1 Burnside Western Civilization- Medieval

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time

by

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In October 1347, at about the start of the month, twelve Genoese galleys put in to the port of Messina [Italy].

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."

The Great Mortality is John Kelly's compelling narrative account of the medieval plague, from its beginnings on the desolate, windswept steppes of Central Asia to its journey through the teeming cities of Europe. "This is the end of the world," wrote a bootblack of the pestilence's arrival in his native Siena. The Great Mortality paints a vivid picture of what the end of the world looked like, circa 1348 and 1349: bodies packed like "lasagna" in municipal plague pits, collection carts winding through the streets early in the morning to pick up the dead, desperate crowds crouched over municipal latrines inhaling noxious fumes in hopes of inoculating themselves against the plague, children abandoning infected parents — and parents, infected children.

The Great Mortality also looks at new theories about the cause of the plague and takes into account why some scientists and historians believe that the Black Death was an outbreak not of bubonic plague, but of another infectious illness — perhaps anthrax or a disease like Ebola.

Interweaving a modern scientific methodical analysis with an evocative portrait of medieval medicine, superstition, and bigotry, The Great Mortality achieves an air of immediacy, authenticity, and intimacy never before seen in literature on the plague. Drawing on the latest research, it unwraps the mystery that shrouds the disease and offers a new and fascinating look into the complex forces that went into the making of the Black Death.

Review:

"The Black Death raced across Europe from the 1340s to the early 1350s, killing a third of the population. Drawing on recent research as well as firsthand accounts, veteran author Kelly (Three on the Edge, etc.) describes how infected rats, brought by Genoese trading ships returning from the East and docked in Sicily, carried fleas that spread the disease when they bit humans. Two types of plague seem to have predominated: bubonic plague, characterized by swollen lymph nodes and the bubo, a type of boil; and pneumonic plague, characterized by lung infection and spitting blood. Those stricken with plague died quickly. Survivors often attempted to flee, but the plague was so widespread that there was virtually no escape from infection. Kelly recounts the varied reactions to the plague. The citizens of Venice, for example, forged a civic response to the crisis, while Avignon fell apart. The author details the emergence of Flagellants, unruly gangs who believed the plague was a punishment from God and roamed the countryside flogging themselves as a penance. Rounding up and burning Jews, whom they blamed for the plague, the Flagellants also sparked widespread anti-Semitism. This is an excellent overview, accessible and engrossing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"This sweeping, viscerally exciting book contributes to a literature of perpetual fascination." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"A ground-level illustration of how the plague ravaged Europe?putting a vivid, human face on an unimaginable nightmare." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"A compelling and eminently readable portrait." Library Journal

Review:

"John Kelly gives the reader a ferocious, pictorial account of the horrific ravages of [The Black Death]." Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

Review:

"Stunning. The Great Mortality [is endowed with] the sheer immediacy ancient history yields to only a few." Houston Chronicle

Review:

"It's almost unethical to write a book on human cataclysm as entertaining as The Great Mortality. Strange that a book about the worst natural disaster in European history should be so full of life. This book may be written in the tradition of Barbara Tuchman but there is a seething vitality here that is Kelly's alone." Minneapolis Star Tribune

Review:

"The Black Death is history's best-known pandemic, but until now its full history has not been written. In The Great Mortality John Kelly gives a human face to the 14th century disaster that claimed 75 million lives, a third of the world's population." Oakland Tribune

Review:

"A compelling and bone-chilling account." Tampa Tribune

Book News Annotation:

It was probably caused by Y. pestis on fleas feasting on R. rattus and then on H. sapiens. It destroyed all life in some places, for it killed all the domestic animals as well as the human residents. It also probably saved Europe from a marginal existence by creating a free market economy. Kelly describes how the Black Death killed about a third of the population of Europe, how individuals attempted to out-run or out-think it, how the Church coped as those it dedicated to caring for the victims died beside them, and how the reduction in the population increased the value of labor and thereby improved the economic lot of the survivors. He also describes how plague deniers are coming up with new ideas about likely diseases, and how modern epidemics relate to conditions that led to the Black Death.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

Kelly plunges the reader into the world of the Middle Ages, telling an age-old story with an air of immediacy and intimacy never before seen in plague literature, while drawing on the latest research to paint a new picture of the Black Death.

Synopsis:

A compelling and harrowing history of the Black Death epidemic that swept through Europe in the      mid-14th century killing 25 million people. It was one of the most devastating human disasters in history.

The bodies were sparsely covered that the dogs dragged them forth and devoured them . And believing it to be the end of the world, no one wept for the dead, for all expected to die. Agnolo di Turo, Siena, 1348

In just over 1000 days from 1347 to 1351 the 'Black Death' swept across medieval Europe killing 30% of it's population. It was a catastrophe that touched the lives of every individual on the continent. The deadly Y. Pestis virus entered Europe by Genoese galley at Messina, Sicily in October 1347. By the spring of 1348 it was devastating the cities of central Italy, by June 1348 it had swept in to France and Spain, and by August it had reached England. One graphic testimony can be found at St Mary's, Ashwell, Hertfordshire, where an anonymous hand carved a harrowing inscription for 1349: 'Wretched, terrible, destructive year, the remnants of the people alone remain.'

According to the Foster scale, a kind of Richter scale of human disaster, the plague of 1347-51 is the second worst catastrophe in recorded history. Only World War II produced more death, physical damage, and emotional suffering. It is also the closest thing that Defence Analysts compare a thermonuclear war to - in geographical extent, abruptness and casualties.

In The Great Mortality John Kelly retraces the journey of the Black Death using original source material - diary fragments, letters, manuscripts - as it swept across Europe. It is harrowing portrait of a continent gripped by anepidemic, but also a very personal story narrated by the individuals whose lives were touched by it.

 

 

Synopsis:

A compelling and harrowing history of the Black Death epidemic that swept through Europe in the mid–14th century killing 25 million people. It was one of the most devastating human disasters in history.

"The bodies were sparsely covered that the dogs dragged them forth and devoured them . And believing it to be the end of the world, no one wept for the dead, for all expected to die." Agnolo di Turo, Siena, 1348

In just over 1000 days from 1347 to 1351 the 'Black Death' swept across medieval Europe killing 30% of it's population. It was a catastrophe that touched the lives of every individual on the continent. The deadly Y. Pestis virus entered Europe by Genoese galley at Messina, Sicily in October 1347. By the spring of 1348 it was devastating the cities of central Italy, by June 1348 it had swept in to France and Spain, and by August it had reached England. One graphic testimony can be found at St Mary's, Ashwell, Hertfordshire, where an anonymous hand carved a harrowing inscription for 1349: 'Wretched, terrible, destructive year, the remnants of the people alone remain.'

According to the Foster scale, a kind of Richter scale of human disaster, the plague of 1347–51 is the second worst catastrophe in recorded history. Only World War II produced more death, physical damage, and emotional suffering. It is also the closest thing that Defence Analysts compare a thermonuclear war to – in geographical extent, abruptness and casualties.

In The Great Mortality John Kelly retraces the journey of the Black Death using original source material – diary fragments, letters, manuscripts – as it swept across Europe. It is harrowing portrait of a continent gripped by an epidemic, but also a very personal story narrated by the individuals whose lives were touched by it.

About the Author

John Kelly, who holds a graduate degree in European history, is the author and coauthor of ten books on science, medicine, and human behavior, including Three on the Edge, which Publishers Weekly called the work of"an expert storyteller." He lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060006921
Subtitle:
An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time
Author:
Kelly, John
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
History
Subject:
Medieval
Subject:
Forensic Medicine
Subject:
Black death
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20050201
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.04x6.46x1.21 in. 1.40 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
History and Social Science » Western Civilization » Medieval

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$11.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780060006921 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The Black Death raced across Europe from the 1340s to the early 1350s, killing a third of the population. Drawing on recent research as well as firsthand accounts, veteran author Kelly (Three on the Edge, etc.) describes how infected rats, brought by Genoese trading ships returning from the East and docked in Sicily, carried fleas that spread the disease when they bit humans. Two types of plague seem to have predominated: bubonic plague, characterized by swollen lymph nodes and the bubo, a type of boil; and pneumonic plague, characterized by lung infection and spitting blood. Those stricken with plague died quickly. Survivors often attempted to flee, but the plague was so widespread that there was virtually no escape from infection. Kelly recounts the varied reactions to the plague. The citizens of Venice, for example, forged a civic response to the crisis, while Avignon fell apart. The author details the emergence of Flagellants, unruly gangs who believed the plague was a punishment from God and roamed the countryside flogging themselves as a penance. Rounding up and burning Jews, whom they blamed for the plague, the Flagellants also sparked widespread anti-Semitism. This is an excellent overview, accessible and engrossing." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "This sweeping, viscerally exciting book contributes to a literature of perpetual fascination."
"Review" by , "A ground-level illustration of how the plague ravaged Europe?putting a vivid, human face on an unimaginable nightmare."
"Review" by , "A compelling and eminently readable portrait."
"Review" by , "John Kelly gives the reader a ferocious, pictorial account of the horrific ravages of [The Black Death]."
"Review" by , "Stunning. The Great Mortality [is endowed with] the sheer immediacy ancient history yields to only a few."
"Review" by , "It's almost unethical to write a book on human cataclysm as entertaining as The Great Mortality. Strange that a book about the worst natural disaster in European history should be so full of life. This book may be written in the tradition of Barbara Tuchman but there is a seething vitality here that is Kelly's alone."
"Review" by , "The Black Death is history's best-known pandemic, but until now its full history has not been written. In The Great Mortality John Kelly gives a human face to the 14th century disaster that claimed 75 million lives, a third of the world's population."
"Review" by , "A compelling and bone-chilling account."
"Synopsis" by , Kelly plunges the reader into the world of the Middle Ages, telling an age-old story with an air of immediacy and intimacy never before seen in plague literature, while drawing on the latest research to paint a new picture of the Black Death.
"Synopsis" by , A compelling and harrowing history of the Black Death epidemic that swept through Europe in the      mid-14th century killing 25 million people. It was one of the most devastating human disasters in history.

The bodies were sparsely covered that the dogs dragged them forth and devoured them . And believing it to be the end of the world, no one wept for the dead, for all expected to die. Agnolo di Turo, Siena, 1348

In just over 1000 days from 1347 to 1351 the 'Black Death' swept across medieval Europe killing 30% of it's population. It was a catastrophe that touched the lives of every individual on the continent. The deadly Y. Pestis virus entered Europe by Genoese galley at Messina, Sicily in October 1347. By the spring of 1348 it was devastating the cities of central Italy, by June 1348 it had swept in to France and Spain, and by August it had reached England. One graphic testimony can be found at St Mary's, Ashwell, Hertfordshire, where an anonymous hand carved a harrowing inscription for 1349: 'Wretched, terrible, destructive year, the remnants of the people alone remain.'

According to the Foster scale, a kind of Richter scale of human disaster, the plague of 1347-51 is the second worst catastrophe in recorded history. Only World War II produced more death, physical damage, and emotional suffering. It is also the closest thing that Defence Analysts compare a thermonuclear war to - in geographical extent, abruptness and casualties.

In The Great Mortality John Kelly retraces the journey of the Black Death using original source material - diary fragments, letters, manuscripts - as it swept across Europe. It is harrowing portrait of a continent gripped by anepidemic, but also a very personal story narrated by the individuals whose lives were touched by it.

 

 

"Synopsis" by , A compelling and harrowing history of the Black Death epidemic that swept through Europe in the mid–14th century killing 25 million people. It was one of the most devastating human disasters in history.

"The bodies were sparsely covered that the dogs dragged them forth and devoured them . And believing it to be the end of the world, no one wept for the dead, for all expected to die." Agnolo di Turo, Siena, 1348

In just over 1000 days from 1347 to 1351 the 'Black Death' swept across medieval Europe killing 30% of it's population. It was a catastrophe that touched the lives of every individual on the continent. The deadly Y. Pestis virus entered Europe by Genoese galley at Messina, Sicily in October 1347. By the spring of 1348 it was devastating the cities of central Italy, by June 1348 it had swept in to France and Spain, and by August it had reached England. One graphic testimony can be found at St Mary's, Ashwell, Hertfordshire, where an anonymous hand carved a harrowing inscription for 1349: 'Wretched, terrible, destructive year, the remnants of the people alone remain.'

According to the Foster scale, a kind of Richter scale of human disaster, the plague of 1347–51 is the second worst catastrophe in recorded history. Only World War II produced more death, physical damage, and emotional suffering. It is also the closest thing that Defence Analysts compare a thermonuclear war to – in geographical extent, abruptness and casualties.

In The Great Mortality John Kelly retraces the journey of the Black Death using original source material – diary fragments, letters, manuscripts – as it swept across Europe. It is harrowing portrait of a continent gripped by an epidemic, but also a very personal story narrated by the individuals whose lives were touched by it.

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