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The Black Death: A Personal History

by John Hatcher

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4051751,463 (3.5)3
In this fresh approach to the history of the Black Death, John Hatcher, a world-renowned scholar of the Middle Ages, recreates everyday life in a mid-fourteenth century rural English village. By focusing on the experiences of ordinary villagers as they lived--and died--during the Black Death (1345-50 AD), Hatcher vividly places the reader directly into those tumultuous years and describes in fascinating detail the day-to-day existence of people struggling with the tragic effects of the plague. Dramatic scenes portray how contemporaries must have experienced and thought about the momentous events--and how they tried to make sense of it all.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This was very informative, but since it was written by a historian and his intention was to tell an accurate tale of the Bubonic Plague, it comes off rather dry and a bit boring. I would have liked an historic account of the 12th century epidemic a bit better I think, than this "hybrid" of fiction and history. Oh, and he keeps calling is a "docudrama." I decided I sort of hate that word. Sorry, not my cup of tea. ( )
  Carmentalie | Jun 4, 2022 |
Góð samantekt á áhrifum Svarta dauðans á íbúa smáþorps í Englandi. Höfundurinn er sagnfræðingur sem gjörþekkir efnið en hér er á ferðinni sögulegur skáldskapur sem veitir lesanda innsýn í hugarheim þorpsbúa þegar þeir upplifa það sem þeir telja refsingu Guðs og heimsendi svo eitthvað sé nefnt. Stutt hljóðbók sem er afskaplega góð kynning á hamförunum. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
This is a great book for casual readers and people just touching on learning about the medieval period. While others are quick to chastise it for not being as good as similar books, like A Distant Mirror, it serves well for the beginner, being less dense, episodic, and engaging. ( )
  theothergarypowell | May 20, 2021 |
Interesting and insightful. ( )
  Mithril | Jan 8, 2021 |
Written by an academic historian, this book fails on so many levels.
Firstly, it is intended to be about the plagues of the black death in the 14th century, but the focus is primarily on the medieval church - the book is half over before the plague arrives.
The details of the plague are brief to a fault. There are three paragraphs giving some technical details of the plague - the other mentions seem to be limited to buboes and blood and dying.
I was prepared to forego the macabre details of the plague when the author starts dealing with the economic impact - particularly the new found power of the serfs to bargain for higher wages. Sadly, while the book gives some coverage, there is only a very limited attempt to put the changes in context.
Then there is the structure of the book - written as a sort of historic fiction. The idea is that the limited documentary evidence would be presented in the lives and words of the individuals of the village that is the focus of the book. Nice idea, but badly delivered. The reader is left struggling to comprehend what is pure fiction, what is probable fiction and what is fact.
And then there is the church. As Mentioned above, the focus is the church. The main character in the book is Master John, the saintly village priest. Bizarrely, this leading character is one that is NOT in the documentary evidence. So, we plough through endless pages of his thoughts and actions (did I mention that they were all saintly?) while there seems to be a total lack of documentary evidence for any of it. Sure, he is a composite of other figures in the country at the time, but why is this the focus of the book? Why so much detail about the church at all?
I'm not sure that it was the intention of the author, but the focus on the church and its response to the plague, generous though that focus is, makes the church and religious belief in general, a farce. ( )
  mbmackay | Aug 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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In this fresh approach to the history of the Black Death, John Hatcher, a world-renowned scholar of the Middle Ages, recreates everyday life in a mid-fourteenth century rural English village. By focusing on the experiences of ordinary villagers as they lived--and died--during the Black Death (1345-50 AD), Hatcher vividly places the reader directly into those tumultuous years and describes in fascinating detail the day-to-day existence of people struggling with the tragic effects of the plague. Dramatic scenes portray how contemporaries must have experienced and thought about the momentous events--and how they tried to make sense of it all.

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