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The Great Plague: The Story of London's Most Deadly Year
In the winter of 1664-65, a bitter cold descended on London in the days before Christmas. Above the city, an unusually bright comet traced an arc in the sky, exciting much comment and portending "horrible windes and tempests." And in the remote, squalid precinct of St. Giles-in-the-Fields outside the city wall, Goodwoman Phillips was pronounced dead of the plague. Her hous ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 7th 2006 by Johns Hopkins University Press
(first published January 20th 2004)
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Any book entirely about plague is bound to be at least a little depressing, and it would not be fair to say that this one, with its discussion of death tolls and plague pits and fear of the unknown, is just a lovely light read for summer. On the other hand, the authors do an amazing job of conveying the more positive aspects of the tragedy; their focus is less on death for the sake of death than on the ways in which London coped with the plague and soldiered on in spite of it. I didn't expect to ...more
I got much more out of this book than I expected. Not only did it meticulously document what happened in London during the plague year of 1665 when 100,000 Londoners died and many more fled for their lives, but it provided a rich context of London at the time. Based on multiple first hand accounts, letters, journals and the Bill of Mortality published each week in the city, the Mootes put a faces on the statistics and transport readers into the narrow streets of London. It was a terrifying journ ...more
I often marvel that we still make the statement, "avoid it like the plague" when that outbreak occurred so long ago. That is testament to how severely this effected the human population. I was interested in this book for two reasons: I am going to London in September, and I was curious if it would mention the theory of how cystic fibrosis may have served as an evolutionary benefit back in the days of plague. This book did not cover that, but it certainly had some interesting information, much of ...more
An amazing, in-depth look at the great plague in London, tracking actual people who lived in London at the time. A rich tapestry of historical snippets--church registers, death lists, letters, and other documents to piece together a picture of what life was like amidst so much death and uncertainty.
I thought this had a lot of great primary sources, but the major story of the epidemic disappeared within the sea of characters. Stronger organization and better reader tools (references to characters, maps, timelines) would have helped me stay focused in this book about a very complex time.
Excellent. A very readable but in-depth study of the 1665 plague. It uses the writings of people like Pepys who lived through it, but it also draws on very extensive research, and concludes with a brief history of the disease after 1665. Thoroughly recommended.