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The Black Death: A Personal History by John…

The Black Death: A Personal History (edition 2009)

by John Hatcher (Author)

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3641149,978 (3.51)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)
Title:The Black Death: A Personal History
Authors:John Hatcher (Author)
Info:Da Capo Press (2009), Edition: Reprint, 318 pages
Collections:Your library, EBooks
Tags:Ebooks, British Writer, British Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Science, History, Journalism, Plague

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The Black Death: A Personal History by John Hatcher


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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
An historical "docudrama" about the bubonic plague's effect on Walsham, England in 1349
  JohnLavik | Mar 29, 2020 |
A fascinating account of the great plague from the perspective of a typical 14th century English manor village. The author combines historical fact with educated speculation to create an account that is not quite straight history but far more than mere historical fiction. Due to the paucity of information regarding everyday life from the perspective of peasants and local clergy, such a work provides a unique perspective far more interesting than most works about the Black Death.

Interesting, easy reading and well written. Highly recommended. ( )
  la2bkk | Nov 9, 2016 |
This isn't a bad book, but it is an odd one. In The Black Death: A Personal History, Hatcher sets out to show the effects which the Black Death had on one small village: Walsham in Suffolk, England. Of course, there is one big drawback to this approach: while Walsham is unusually well-documented for the fourteenth century, it still has nowhere near the amount or kind of surviving documentation which would allow a historian to write a thorough micro-history of what its inhabitants went through during the Plague. Hatcher therefore created a kind of textual docudrama—a blend of historical fact and narrative fiction. It makes for an odd read; neither fish nor fowl, it reads a little like a novelisation of a BBC documentary. It is well-researched, however, and may well appeal to the interested lay reader or to an undergraduate audience (if there is enough time devoted to teasing apart the factual versus fictional elements of the book). ( )
  siriaeve | Jan 5, 2013 |
Read way too much like a history book instead of fiction. Just could not get through it. Oh well, plenty more books in the sea!
  SenoraG163 | Sep 10, 2011 |
As others have mentioned the author seemed torn between 2 ideas. Does he recount the life of a village going through the Black Death, based only on the scanty records? Or does he fictionalise the characters, to try to bring a sense of what it was like to go through the plague? He goes for the latter, but can't quite seem to drag himself away from the first. Its fine to explain in the introduction that the characters are fictional, and on what basis he has created them. But by introducing each chapter with "the facts" he destroys any suspension of disbelief the reader has managed. Not only does Hatcher sometimes take further opportunities to remind us that the characters are fictional, just when we've built up some empathy with them, but the merging of fact and fiction is clumsily handled. A "factual" introduction tells of a letter from the King sent to all churches - and lo, 2 pages later here is Master John the fictional priest receiving and taking comfort from it. The "facts" tell us of decrees against "idling" (how little things have changed) and 2 pages later we have the local peasants down the pub, complaining about it.

The book is also repetitive - the last 40 pages, which contain what would have been quite an interesting description of how the plague changed the rural social fabric through the increased bargaining power of labourers, were ruined for me by labouring ad nauseam of the same point. We get it. The workers discovered that shortage provided opportunity for them. The landowners didn't like it. This doesnt need 2 chapters

A shame because I really wanted to like this book, but it didn't really work ( )
2 vote Opinionated | Jun 30, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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