Sharon 's Reviews > The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time

The Great Mortality by John     Kelly
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really liked it
bookshelves: history
Recommended for: Anyone interested in the Great Plague of Europen

Most of us know the history of how the Black Death marched around Europe. We know it probably started in Caffa and made its way full circle to Russia leaving horrible suffering in its wake. John Kelly could have gone the dry as dust scholarly route but instead makes the Plague almost like the villain in a novel. I don't know if its possible to anthropomorphize a disease but that's what he did. It skipped, it ran, it lay in wait. It hid in corners and ran from fire. Some readers liked it, some thought it over the top. If nothing else it made for an interesting way to read about an old story.

It did tend to examine some areas more closely than others but that might be because we have more complete records of the after effects of the contagion in places such as England than we do in other parts of Europe. There is technical and medical language that might make some readers feel the need to read some explanations several times over.

He makes an attempt to describe the over the top 'wild' behavior of the surviving population after the disease had run its course. There is an easy explanation for that. It is what some in our day call a 'survivor's high'. Being a cancer survivor I recognized the pattern. While I did not descend into any kind of debauchery I did engage in some rather reckless behavior when I first went into remission. That was the reason the remaining people 'partied hard'.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in the Great Plague. Just be prepared for the author's approach to the disease itself. It is described in human rather than in cold clinic terms.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 8, 2012 – Finished Reading
September 9, 2012 – Shelved
September 27, 2012 – Shelved as: history

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