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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.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
I've listened to 3 hours of this and so far the black death hasn't even been mentioned. All there has been is a long and dull account of a priest's life story and an even longer and duller death scene (not from the plague). It is too dry to be called good fiction writing, and despite the author's intention to focus the story around a "good" priest I am so far apathetic towards him and certainly have no warm feelings for this main character. I could easily forgive the bad story-telling part if it was a good historical book but so far I'm finding that it's not. Unless you are interested in the minute details of a Catholic death scene in the 14th century you won't find anything of interest, at least in the first 3 hours of this audiobook.
This is a small point, but I don't know what possessed the publishers to have an American narrate a story about a Medieval East Anglican village??
I'm really disappointed and wish I had not downloaded this.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful