The Great Plague is one of the most compelling events in human history, even more so now, when the notion of plague—be it animal or human—has never loomed larger as a contemporary public concern
The plague that devastated Asia and Europe in the 14th century has been of never-ending interest to both scholarly and general readers. Many books on the plague rely on statistics to tell the story: how many people died; how farm output and trade declined. But statistics can’t convey what it was like to sit in Siena or Avignon and hear that a thousand people a day are dying two towns away. Or to have to chose between your own life and your duty to a mortally ill child or spouse. Or to live in a society where the bonds of blood and sentiment and law have lost all meaning, where anyone can murder or rape or plunder anyone else without fear of consequence.
In The Great Mortality, author John Kelly lends an air of immediacy and intimacy to his telling of the journey of the plague as it traveled from the steppes of Russia, across Europe, and into England, killing 75 million people—one third of the known population—before it vanished.
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.
What People are Saying About This
“A fascinating account of the plague. A frightening reminder of what could happen today.”
“Powerful, rich, moving, humane, and full of important lessons for an age when weapons of mass destruction are loose.”
“John Kelly gives the reader a ferocious, pictorial account of the horrific ravages of [The Black Death].”
“Rich and evocative…written in the tradition of Barbara Tuchman, I couldn’t stop reading this work of brilliance and wisdom.”
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