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.More
"This book uses a bit of fiction, mixing it with [Hatcher's] vast knowledge to illuminate that catastrophe." (Bookviews.com)
"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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Obviously written by a Historian
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.
Beautiful narration for history geeks
- N. Barnes