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The Black Death by Gwyneth Cravens

The Black Death (original 1977; edition 1978)

by Gwyneth Cravens (Author)

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893243,588 (3.75)1
Title:The Black Death
Authors:Gwyneth Cravens (Author)
Info:Ballantine Books (1978), 354 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Black Death by Gwyneth Cravens (1977)


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1977. Bubonic Plague in New York. I read this kind of book more to experience New York City in the seventies than for the plot. This one is especially good for the New York-o-phile as the characters are constantly going uptown and back downtown and the author calls out the streets they use frequently and the sights they pass fairly often too. A large section takes place in Central Park. Also a bonus to me was the involvement of street gangs. The Savage Shadows play a sort of vigilante role after the plague has destroyed the functional city. The plot was compelling. The government response to the problem was about as cynical and unhelpful as it could possibly be.

The racial stereotypes of the time period are thoughtlessly upheld by the author. Harlem in especially hard hit by the plague. Undocumented Cubans and Puerto Ricans mostly. One of the first victims however is a flashy black pimp named "Flash". Another black character is a janitor. Jews are in positions of power including the Mayor.

Nevertheless I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable and fast read. ( )
  kylekatz | Feb 28, 2011 |
A chilling thriller about the outbreak of plague in New York and how it is used by some members of the defence establishment as part of cold war hostilities. I thought the speed of the collapse of New York society was implausibly rapid and the whole action of the novel takes place over just one week. Also some of the historical detail is not accepted by the mainstream of opinion - e.g. the 1348-9 Black Death is here said to have killed 50-75% of the population of Europe as opposed to the generally accepted one third to one half. Gripping stuff. ( )
  john257hopper | May 26, 2009 |
This is a frighteningly realistic account of a pneumonic plague epidemic in NYC. One of the co-authors (John Marr) was my instructor in epidemiology while I was in medical school in the late 70's, so everything in the book is quite accurate. ( )
  Jamie638 | Mar 15, 2007 |
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That pestilence deprived of human inhabitants villages and cities, and castles and towns, so that there was scarcely fund a man to dwell therein; the pestilence was so contagious that whosoever touched the sick or dead was immediatley infected and died; and the penitent and the cofessor were carried together to the grave...I am waiting for death till it come...so I have reduced these things to writing; and lest the writing should perish with the writer, and the work together with the workman, I leave parchment for coninuing the work, if haply any man survive, and any of the race of Adam escape this pestilence.
--John Clyn, Friar Minor of the Convent of Kilkenny, 1349
for Lucy
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Welcome to New York City!
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