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The Black Death: The Great Mortality of 1348-1350: A Brief History with Documents (The Bedford Series in History and Culture) [Paperback]

John Aberth
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1, 2005 031240087X 978-0312400873 The Bedford Series in History and Culture
A fascinating account of the phenomenon known as the Black Death, this volume offers a wealth of documentary material focused on the initial outbreak of the plague that ravaged the world in the fourteenth century. A comprehensive introduction that provides important background on the origins and spread of the plague is followed by nearly 50 documents organized into topical sections that focus on the origin and spread of the illness; the responses of medical practitioners; the societal and economic impact; religious responses; the flagellant movement and attacks on Jews provoked by the plague; and the artistic response. Each chapter has an introduction that summarizes the issues explored in the documents; headnotes to the documents provide additional background material. The book contains documents from many countries — including Muslim and Byzantine sources — to give students a variety of perspectives on this devastating illness and its consequences. The volume also includes illustrations, a chronology of the Black Death, questions to consider, a selected bibliography, and an index.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JOHN ABERTH lives in Roxbury, Vermont, and teaches history at Vermont's Castleton State College, where he formerly served as associate academic dean. He has taught history at a number of other institutions, including Middlebury College, the University of Vermont, St. Michael's College, the University of Nebraska, and Norwich University. He received his Ph.D. in Medieval History from Cambridge University in England and has published several books, including Churchmen in the Age of Edward III: The Case of Bishop Thomas de Lisle (1996), From the Brink of the Apocalypse: Confronting Famine, War, Plague and Death (2000), and A Knight at the Movies: Medieval History on Film (2003).

Product Details

  • Series: The Bedford Series in History and Culture
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's; The Bedford Series in History and Culture edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031240087X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312400873
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Aberth was born in New York City and grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., and (during the summer) in Roxbury, VT. He attended Hamilton College in New York for his B.A. in Creative Writing and also did a junior year abroad at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where he studied Medieval History. He received his M.A. in Medieval Studies from the University of Leeds in England and his Ph.D. in Medieval History from the University of Cambridge, England. He has taught full-time at Norwich University in Vermont, Skidmore College in New York, and at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and part-time at various colleges in Vermont, including Middlebury College, the University of Vermont, St. Michael's College, Castleton State College, and Champlain College. He is the author of seven books on Medieval History, mostly focusing on the Black Death of the late Middle Ages. He lives in Roxbury, VT with his wife, Laura, two cats, and six horses.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
(11)
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Research Material March 23, 2012
By Eric
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Nicely composed first source historical documents. Excellent source material for the historian, easily accessed and well researched. The extensive bibliography only adds weight to the validity of sources. Also provides interesting insight into the cultural and social events and reactions surrounding the Black Plague.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and simple. May 3, 2013
By Zee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book content is well organized. It wasn't repetitive and it was always something new. Its very small too so it wasn't a hard read. I bought it for class. More fun than other books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good selection of texts April 27, 2014
Format:Paperback
This is a collection of translations of texts written not long after the plague of 1348-1350. This book is a useful collection of original texts and could be read to give a general idea of what happened during the Black Death, but is not enough by itself to give someone a thorough understanding of the Black Death. For example, Aberth mentions that the Black Death was the second pandemic of a disease whose first pandemic was the Plague of Justinian, but does not give even a paragraph to talking about that plague; perhaps the collection "Plague and the End of Antiquity" would be a good place to learn about the Plague of Justinian in detail. However, the short amount of exposition Aberth does give is good.

Each text comes with a short description of its author. For example, the description of the arrival of the Black Death in Messina by Michele da Piazza is often quoted (for instance, it is currently cited on the Wikipedia page for the Black Death), but Piazza is a writer scarcely any reader would know anything about. Aberth tells us that Piazza was from Catania, another Sicilian town near Messina, says that there was a rivalry between Catania and Messina, and suggests that "the chronicler may have awarded Messina the honor of first plague infection out of spite".
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Death Review February 24, 2009
Format:Paperback
This book was very informative about the Plague. The documents were very helpful in understand the different aspects of the Plague, including the social political and economical. It was also an easy read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good print quality and a good read. March 4, 2013
By Kenneth
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book drew heavily from primary sources and was both entertaining and informative. As for the physical quality of the book, the cover and binding are very nice.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars yes December 23, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this for my daughter to use in her History Day project. It has been a great resource for her
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