F.G. Cottam's Reviews > The Black Death

The Black Death by Philip Ziegler
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's review
Jul 04, 10

Maybe it has just dated badly (it was first published in 1969); but this is austerely written history that hedges its bets in virtually every sentence. Ziegler's sub-text seems to be that we know almost nothing about the 14th century, despite a wealth of sources. Nothing can be taken on evidence, let alone on trust. Being a fastidious historian is one thing, but this refusal to take anything at face-value is just discouraging, ultimately, for the reader. The subject matter is grim enough without being repeatedly told that it is also basically unknowable. The result is the most self-defeating factual account I have ever read. You finish it wondering why he bothered.

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