The Black Death

  • by John Hatcher
  • Narrated by Geoffrey Centlivre
  • 12 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this fresh approach to the history of the Black Death, John Hatcher, a world-renowned scholar of the Middle Ages, recreates everyday life in a mid-14th-century rural English village.By focusing on the experiences of ordinary villagers as they lived - and died - during the Black Death (A.D. 1345-50), Hatcher vividly places the listener directly into those tumultuous years and describes in fascinating detail the day-to-day existence of people struggling with the tragic effects of the plague. Dramatic scenes portray how contemporaries must have experienced and thought about the momentous events - and how they tried to make sense of it all.


What the Critics Say

"This book uses a bit of fiction, mixing it with [Hatcher's] vast knowledge to illuminate that catastrophe." (
"The core of the story - the plague's effect on the lives of everyday people - is as true as can be surmised, nearly 700 years later." (Cleveland Plain Dealer)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Obviously written by a Historian

Any additional comments?

As a whole, after finishing this book, I found myself understanding the Black Death from the ordinary people's point of view better, the fears and hysteria before, the trials during, and the fall out afterwards. There is a lot of humanity in this book. Unfortunately, the author is very obviously a historian first, and a storyteller a distant second.

Getting to the point often took longer then it should have. There's a lot of good information in this book, but you'll often have to sit through trivial fact reading and, often times quite literally, church sermons. Many of the points put forward are repeated several times, and some of it seems like the author is trying to work some medieval court records in. The introduction itself is almost an hour long snoozefest, and there's author notes before every chapter that often contain spoilers on what's going to happen in this chapter.

All in all, it's informative, makes you feel for the poor people who were so terrified in the face of something they couldn't understand or prevent, but it could've easily skipped or condensed a lot of the boring bits.

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- Runefell

Beautiful narration for history geeks

This book is a brilliant mixture of fact and fiction, which the author Hatcher explains in his very frank preface, making it an award-winning history of the Black Death in Europe. Drawing from the unprecedentedly thorough archival records of a single county in England, this book will not tell you much about the 14th century plague anywhere else, but it does a remarkable job of describing it in medieval England. The narration is also very pleasant. Listeners who are not history geeks may find some of the story tiresome, overly detailed, or somewhat confusing, as Hatcher aimed to reconstruct medieval English village life as well as the plague's effects on it, but for a historian like myself this is a superb audio book.
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- N. Barnes

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-30-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios