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The great mortality : an intimate history of the Black Death, the most devastati
John Kelly
Adult Nonfiction RC172 .K445 2005

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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. Agent, Ellen Levine. (Feb. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Drawing on extensive quotes from 14th-century records, Kelly, a noted medical and science writer (Three on the Edge), offers a compelling and eminently readable portrait of daily life during the Black Death. Concentrating on European society during the years 1347-49, he reveals how the poor and the wealthy alike were devastated by the plague, which also drastically affected Europe's social and economic infrastructure. In his final chapter, Kelly adds an interesting footnote regarding the pros and cons of recent theories that question whether the Black Death was actually caused by the plague bacillus. While much has been written about the medieval plague, the subject continues to fascinate readers, particularly with the current concern with the resurgence of infectious diseases. Scholars will probably be better served by the in-depth analysis found in Ole J. Benedictow's The Black Death 1346-1353, but Kelly's narrative will appeal to general readers and undergraduates. Recommended for public and college libraries.-Tina Neville, Univ. of South Florida at St. Petersburg Lib. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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