Samantha'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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's review
Jan 14, 2009

it was ok
Recommended for: people who like disease and don't mind kind of boring books

I am fascinated by disease and usually assume the worst when I, or someone close to me, gets sick. Cough? It's definitely tuberculosis. Tired? That's probably African Sleeping Sickness. Fever? You've probably got Ebola. A touch of diarrhea? That's most likely dysentery. So, I went into this book ready for the death and distruction of the disease and eager to be absolutely fascinated by it. The book wasn't bad. It was a little textbooky for my taste, a little boring and I disliked the anthropomorphization of the disease, but I am apparently in the minority of people reviewing and just thinking this book was "okay." Kelly's writing style was a little jumpy and I didn't like the back and forth of the timeline (from 14th century to 19th century) within the same paragraph and occassionally within the same sentence.

I did find it fascinating that the US Atomic Energy Commission used the spread pattern and distruction of the 14th Century Black Death as a model for the possible distruction of nuclear weapons and war. I hadn't known that before I read it (and I certainly love learning new thiings...) but as a whole, this is not going to be a book I recommend to friends as a 'must read.'
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