The Journal of the Plague Year

  • by Daniel Defoe
  • Narrated by Nelson Runger
  • 9 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

London's Great Plague of 1665 devastated the city, as Europe's final bubonic outbreak killed thousands of helpless citizens. Daniel Defoe, author of the classic Robinson Crusoe, was five years old when the Plague swept through London, and grew up hearing many stories - some truthful, others exaggerated - of its deadly effects. Blending those anecdotes with his childhood recollections and factual data from government registers, Defoe wrote this comprehensive account of what happened to London in 1665. Both a harrowing historical novel and a reliable journalistic record, Defoe recreates a living, suffering city trying to cope with an incurable, rapidly spreading disease.


Audible Editor Reviews

Writer, merchant, and spy Daniel Defoe, now best known for Robinson Crusoe, presents a fictionalized first-person account of the Great Plague that afflicted London in 1665.
The Journal of the Plague Year: London, 1665 offers detailed, journalistic scenes of shuttered London homes and storefronts and dead bodies on the streets. In some parts of the city, infected families were quarantined as the death toll climbed toward 100,000 and a sense of paranoia and terror pervaded the city.
In an American accent, Nelson Runger serves up a crisp, steady performance of Defoe’s chronicle of a historical disaster.


What the Critics Say

"...the work stands as the most reliable and comprehensive account of the Great Plague that we possess." (Anthony Burgess)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


I ordered this book because I've enjoyed other Defoe stories (Moll Flanders and Robinson Crusoe) and am fascinated by epidemics, but I found this story tedious. It is filled with accounts of how many people died in which parish during what week and other such details. I stuck with it for more than two hours without encountering anything that made me wish to continue.
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- Ellen Spertus

History That Is Important Today

Although fiction, Defoe investigated the facts of the 1665 London plague and wrote this story as if from a first person perspective. As part of my research on SARS, I found this story to be very interesting. Many details are covered, from macro economic impacts to the very detailed descriptions of individuals trying to cope with the epidemic. What I got out of this book was how universal human response is to an epidemic. The very issues Defoe struggles with, such as "locking up house" were just as controversial during the SARS outbreak in Taiwan (now called quarantine).

I think Runger does a good reading job, matching his style to the content. If you like university lectures and very detailed historical information, then this book is for you. If not, you may have a hard time to stay awake.
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- Qbook

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-16-1999
  • Publisher: Recorded Books