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Return of the Black Death: The World's Greatest Serial Killerby Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan
Synopses & Reviews
The Black Death was the most terrible and notorious serial killer of all time. Using original parish records, wills and diaries, Sue Scott and Christopher Duncan reveal the causes of the terrible plague and the human stories behind the statistics. In their skilled hands the records yield some surprising and disturbing truths. Using this evidence, Scott and Duncan prove conclusively that these plagues were not Bubonic Plague, as had been believed throughout the twentieth century, and were not spread by rats. They were the result of a lethal and highly infectious virus transmitted directly from person to person. The disease currently remains in hiding, but the Black Death, or something like it, could re-emerge at any time and, with today's highly mobile community, the consequences would be catastrophic.
Book News Annotation:
In this text for general readers, historical demographer Scott and zoologist Duncan trace the origins of the "Black Death" that periodically devastated Europe before disappearing in the mid- seventeenth century. Drawing upon historical accounts and recent scientific research, they contend that these plagues were caused by the development of a highly infectious virus rather than an outbreak of bubonic plague. The authors conclude with a discussion of the potential for re-emergence of the disease.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
If the twenty-first century seems an unlikely stage for the return of a 14th-century killer, the authors of Return of the Black Death argue that the plague, which vanquished half of Europe, has only lain dormant, waiting to emerge again — perhaps, in another form. At the heart of their chilling scenario is their contention that the plague was spread by direct human contact (not from rat fleas) and was, in fact, a virus perhaps similar to AIDS and Ebola. Noting the periodic occurrence of plagues throughout history, the authors predict its inevitable re-emergence sometime in the future, transformed by mass mobility and bioterrorism into an even more devastating killer.
A complete re-write of the history of the Black Death and the revelations that it could re-emerge at any time.
The Black Death appeared out of the blue in Sicily in 1347 and moved swiftly on to kill half of Europe in three years. Once the plague had established a stronghold in France it continued to terrorize the continent for another three centuries. London's Great Plague of 1665-66, which claimed 6000 lives a week at its height, was its last great strike. A few years later it disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as it had appeared. Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan uncover the tragic and moving human stories behind the records: unsung heroes, bereaved parents, parted lovers and those who exploited the suffering of others for their own greed. They also trace the origins of this lethal disease, through possible earlier outbreaks in classical times back to its animal hosts in Africa. Here it remains but there is no reason to believe it has gone for good.
About the Author
Professor Christopher Duncan is Emeritus Professor of Zoology at Liverpool University. He has written over 200 published papers and seven books.
Susan Scott is a Social Historian specializing in demography. She has written 30 published papers and three books.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Birth of a serial killer.
Chapter 2 The Black Death crosses the Channel.
Chapter 3 After the Black Death: the French connection.
Chapter 4 Tentacles of the plague.
Chapter 5 England under siege.
Chapter 6 Portrait of an epidemic.
Chapter 7 The Great Plague of London.
Chapter 8 How bugs and germs operate.
Chapter 9 Building an identikit of the killer.
Chapter 10 Debunking history.
Chapter 11 Bubonic plague — a myth revisited.
Chapter 12 DNA analysis — a red herring.
Chapter 13 The true story of an historic village.
Chapter 14 The surprising link between AIDS and the Black Death.
Chapter 15 Assembling the jigsaw puzzle.
Chapter 16 The Black Death in hiding.
Chapter 17 Why did haemorrhagic plague suddenly disappear?
Chapter 18 The dangers of emergent diseases.
Chapter 19 The return of the Black Death?
Chapter 20 Is there something more terrible than the Black Death?
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