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Bray has obviously done a lot or research for this book. He knows his diseases and his history; unfortunately, he has a bit of trouble writing. The grammar is at times appalling. Here is one of many examples: "During the Thirty Years War Germany lost half of its population mostly to typhus and the consequent demographic collapse of Central Europe in the seventeenth-century delayed any substantial recovery from the decline already caused by the Black Death and postponed the recovery of Germany until the rise of Prussia." No, I did not leave out any punctuation; it is a 50 word sentence with zero commas or semicolons. I'm normally not very anal about things like this, but it happens so often as to detract from the message. His reliance on primarily secondary sources is troublesome. I would prefer to hear why a certain author is wrong based on the primary source evidence. He has a tendency to list statistics, which are no doubt important but need to be introduced in a manner that is readable and understandable. I would not recommend this book to someone looking for an introduction to disease history; however, if you are well-versed in general history and already know a bit about diseases, you will find it worth a read.
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I will admit that I have not yet finished this book, so my analysis is a bit incomplete. So far I have found that the book is very informative, but very hard to read (and this is coming from an english/history major!). Bray obviously knows his stuff, but instead of stating his own theses and hyptheses, he just overquotes other authors. He does say at the beginning of the book that he used mostly secondary sources, but he cites so many other authors that you start to lose what it is HE is saying. I would have liked for him to take all his sources and come up with an independent analysis based on them (a basic research paper writing rule). Also, he operates under the assumption that there are certain historical events that the reader should know (Roman battles, etc.) - I would have liked him to have spent some time "setting the scene". Bray also alludes to things without explaining them - in the first chapter he states that Hale (one of the many quoted authors) based one of his theories on "a cuneiform tablet". But Bray doesn't say any more about it. Does this tablet still exist? What does it say on it? Does the tablet require interpretation or is it straightforward? These are the things I like to know. I will say that the book is a good starting point - but if you want to really learn more about this subject, you are either going to have to do a LOT of independent research (which is what I am doing) or take a look at another book written on the topic.