The Great Mortality by John Kelly
An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time

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Synopsis

La moria grandissima began its terrible journey across the European and Asian continents in 1347, leaving unimaginable devastation in its wake. Five years later, twenty-five million people were dead, felled by the scourge that would come to be called the Black Death. The Great Mortality is the extraordinary epic account of the worst natural disaster in European history -- a drama of courage, cowardice, misery, madness, and sacrifice that brilliantly illuminates humankind's darkest days when an old world ended and a new world was born.

 

About John Kelly

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John Kelly is the author of the acclaimed bestseller The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time and Three on the Edge: The Stories of Ordinary American Families in Search of a Medical Miracle. He has written about medicine, history, and psychology for many years. He lives in New York City and Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
 
Published August 21, 2012 by Harper Perennial. 364 pages
Genres: History, Professional & Technical, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Great Mortality

Kirkus Reviews

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For his tenth book, science writer Kelly (Three on the Edge, 1999, etc.) delivers a cultural history of the Black Death based on accounts left by those who witnessed the greatest natural disaster in human history.

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The New York Times

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For instance, he argues that different countries reacted differently to the plague: that civic order tended to prevail in England, while "the Black Death seems to have stirred some netherworld deep within the turbulent Teutonic soul," giving birth to pogroms in Central Europe and the bizarre phen...

Mar 04 2005 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

The New York Times

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John Kelly draws on eyewitness accounts to construct a history of the Black Death.

Apr 03 2005 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

The Guardian

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As Kelly notes, the idea of science began - slowly but with a steady persistence - to replace the idea of magic.

Apr 09 2005 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

Publishers Weekly

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Beginning in 1845, potato blight led to crop failures, starvation, disease, and despair, mass evictions, widespread unemployment, women with dead infants begging on street corners, and feral dogs digging up the graves of the famine dead.

Apr 02 2012 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

Publishers Weekly

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Two types of plague seem to have predominated: bubonic plague, characterized by swollen lymph nodes and the bubo, a type of boil;

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BC Books

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In his research, Kelly sought out the history of pandemics and he found himself mesmerized by the first-hand plague accounts from the 14th century, the stories of those who lived through (and died in) the devastating European plague outbreak often referred to as the Black Death.

Jul 31 2006 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

USA Today

(The book's title comes from a forlornly famine-inspired verse by William Butler Yeats.) With grim poetic realism, Kelly depicts the walking-dead hordes of stricken wraiths — racked by hunger, typhus and dysentery — who haunt the shanties, roads and towns of Ireland, desperate for food, water...

Aug 20 2012 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

Washington Independent Review of Books

The Irish famine predicament presented an ideal opportunity to impose modernized agricultural processes, to marshal a subsistence labor force to work instead on larger and more productive farms, farms that could raise beef cattle and grain crops, thereby to yield higher returns than potatoes.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Product Description A magisterial account of the worst disasters to strike humankind—the Great Irish Potato Famine—conveyed as lyrical narrative history from the acclaimed author of The Great MortalityDeeply researched, compelling in...

Sep 02 2012 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

Bookmarks Magazine

Take Kelly's vivid description of London in the fall of 1348: "A nighttime walk across Medieval London would probably take only twenty minutes or so, but traversing the daytime city was a different matter....

Aug 29 2012 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

National Review Online

That's John Kelly writing about the Black Death in his book, The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time.

Sep 14 2005 | Read Full Review of The Great Mortality : An Inti...

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