John Kelly

The Great Mortality (Paperback)

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<p><strong>The Great Plague is one of the most compelling events in human history, even more so now, when the notion of plague--be it animal or human--has never loomed larger as a contemporary public concern</strong></p> <p>The plague that devastated Asia and Europe in the 14th century has been of never-ending interest to both scholarly and general readers. Many books on the plague rely on statistics to tell the story: how many people died; how farm output and trade declined. But statistics can't convey what it was like to sit in Siena or Avignon and hear that a thousand people a day are dying two towns away. Or to have to chose between your own life and your duty to a mortally ill child or spouse. Or to live in a society where the bonds of blood and sentiment and law have lost all meaning, where anyone can murder or rape or plunder anyone else without fear of consequence. </p> <p> In <em>The Great Mortality</em>, author John Kelly lends an air of immediacy and intimacy to his telling of the journey of the plague as it traveled from the steppes of Russia, across Europe, and into England, killing 75 million people--one third of the known population--before it vanished.</p>

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The Great Plague is one of the most compelling events in human history, even more so now, when the notion of plague--be it animal or human--has never loomed larger as a contemporary public concern

The plague that devastated Asia and Europe in the 14th century has been of never-ending interest to both scholarly and general readers. Many books on the plague rely on statistics to tell the story: how many people died; how farm output and trade declined. But statistics can't convey what it was like to sit in Siena or Avignon and hear that a thousand people a day are dying two towns away. Or to have to chose between your own life and your duty to a mortally ill child or spouse. Or to live in a society where the bonds of blood and sentiment and law have lost all meaning, where anyone can murder or rape or plunder anyone else without fear of consequence.

In The Great Mortality, author John Kelly lends an air of immediacy and intimacy to his telling of the journey of the plague as it traveled from the steppes of Russia, across Europe, and into England, killing 75 million people--one third of the known population--before it vanished.

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.

Specifications

Series Title
Michael Ohayon Series
Publisher
HarperCollins Publishers
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
364
Author
John Kelly
ISBN-13
9780060006938
Publication Date
January, 2006
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.50 Inches
ISBN-10
0060006935

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Average Rating:(4.1)out of 5 stars
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Most helpful positive review
4 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
In the bonus section o...
In the bonus section of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time author John Kelly discusses three people who brought the period of Europe's Black Death to life for him. The first is Jacme De Podio, a peasant from Marseille. After Jacme's son, grand-daughter and daughter-in-law all died from the plague, he decided he should inherit his daughter-in-law's estate. To do so he had to find two witnesses who would swear out in court that she had died. Jacme spent two years searching the plague ravished city of Marseille, finally found the witnesses he needed and inherited the estate. Carpe Diem. The second was Queen Joanna of Naples and Sicily. One of the major celebrities of 14th century Europe, Queen Joanna stood accused of murdering her husband so she could marry her lover. Her trial in the Papal court at Avignon was the must see event of the day, drawing a crowd from every corner of the continent in spite of the plague that ravaged the land. She was found innocent, though later her former in-laws invaded her kingdom forcing her to flee to Provence where she was reuinted with her lover. The third is Agnolo di Tura called Agnolo the Fat. Agnolo, a hard-working man who rose from the lower classes to the upper middle class prior to the plague, wrote one of the better chronicles of the Black Death which sums up the plagues full horror, "And I, Agnolo di Tura, called the fat, buried my wife and five children with my own hands." The Black Death, called the Great Mortality by those who lived through it, was the greatest tragedy ever to befall Europe. (Whether or not its death toll was worse than that of World War II depends in part on how you manipulate the statistics.) While it brought about an end to the lives of millions, the Black Death changed the course of European history and laid the groundwork for the Renaissance. Mr. Kelly's book is a thorough and entertaining account of the Black Death from its origins to its after effects. While he presents the historical facts and the scientific details along with the numbers needed to understand the profound effects the Black Death had, Mr. Kelly's focus on the individual people of the time brings the story home as it brings the story to life. The story of the Black Death is full of scoundrals, heroes and everyone in between. Agnolo di Tura will be familiar to anyone who remembers what they studied in middle school, but others, like Queen Joanna of Naples have been kept out of the history books for one reason or another. Hers is one of many fascinating stories in The Great Mortality. The Great Mortality is a history book for both lovers and non-lovers of history. While there is enough detail in The Great Mortality to answer all but the most obscure questions anyone might have about the Black Death, the book never becomes lost in arcane information or bogged down in academic language. The story of The Great Mortality is always interesting, often moving, and at times inspiring. That all of Agnolo di Tura's children died moves the reader, but so does the knowledge that he carried on in spite of this. In fact, he remarried and became successful enough to complain about his worker's demands for higher wages.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
Moderately well writte...
Moderately well written but I was left feeling unsatisfied. In several instances I thought the author was just skimming the surface. There are some unnecessary shots taken at Catholicism and it is worth noting that the mortality rate among Catholic clergy was much greater than that of the general population. This would indicate that instead of "running away", Catholic priests were staying and ministering to the sick. But the subject of the plague is so morbidly interesting to me that I end up finishing everything I've read on the subject. I would suggest checking this book out of the library, though, instead of buying it.
Most helpful positive review
4 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
In the bonus section o...
In the bonus section of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time author John Kelly discusses three people who brought the period of Europe's Black Death to life for him. The first is Jacme De Podio, a peasant from Marseille. After Jacme's son, grand-daughter and daughter-in-law all died from the plague, he decided he should inherit his daughter-in-law's estate. To do so he had to find two witnesses who would swear out in court that she had died. Jacme spent two years searching the plague ravished city of Marseille, finally found the witnesses he needed and inherited the estate. Carpe Diem. The second was Queen Joanna of Naples and Sicily. One of the major celebrities of 14th century Europe, Queen Joanna stood accused of murdering her husband so she could marry her lover. Her trial in the Papal court at Avignon was the must see event of the day, drawing a crowd from every corner of the continent in spite of the plague that ravaged the land. She was found innocent, though later her former in-laws invaded her kingdom forcing her to flee to Provence where she was reuinted with her lover. The third is Agnolo di Tura called Agnolo the Fat. Agnolo, a hard-working man who rose from the lower classes to the upper middle class prior to the plague, wrote one of the better chronicles of the Black Death which sums up the plagues full horror, "And I, Agnolo di Tura, called the fat, buried my wife and five children with my own hands." The Black Death, called the Great Mortality by those who lived through it, was the greatest tragedy ever to befall Europe. (Whether or not its death toll was worse than that of World War II depends in part on how you manipulate the statistics.) While it brought about an end to the lives of millions, the Black Death changed the course of European history and laid the groundwork for the Renaissance. Mr. Kelly's book is a thorough and entertaining account of the Black Death from its origins to its after effects. While he presents the historical facts and the scientific details along with the numbers needed to understand the profound effects the Black Death had, Mr. Kelly's focus on the individual people of the time brings the story home as it brings the story to life. The story of the Black Death is full of scoundrals, heroes and everyone in between. Agnolo di Tura will be familiar to anyone who remembers what they studied in middle school, but others, like Queen Joanna of Naples have been kept out of the history books for one reason or another. Hers is one of many fascinating stories in The Great Mortality. The Great Mortality is a history book for both lovers and non-lovers of history. While there is enough detail in The Great Mortality to answer all but the most obscure questions anyone might have about the Black Death, the book never becomes lost in arcane information or bogged down in academic language. The story of The Great Mortality is always interesting, often moving, and at times inspiring. That all of Agnolo di Tura's children died moves the reader, but so does the knowledge that he carried on in spite of this. In fact, he remarried and became successful enough to complain about his worker's demands for higher wages.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
Moderately well writte...
Moderately well written but I was left feeling unsatisfied. In several instances I thought the author was just skimming the surface. There are some unnecessary shots taken at Catholicism and it is worth noting that the mortality rate among Catholic clergy was much greater than that of the general population. This would indicate that instead of "running away", Catholic priests were staying and ministering to the sick. But the subject of the plague is so morbidly interesting to me that I end up finishing everything I've read on the subject. I would suggest checking this book out of the library, though, instead of buying it.
In the bonus section of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time author John Kelly discusses three people who brought the period of Europe's Black Death to life for him. The first is Jacme De Podio, a peasant from Marseille. After Jacme's son, grand-daughter and daughter-in-law all died from the plague, he decided he should inherit his daughter-in-law's estate. To do so he had to find two witnesses who would swear out in court that she had died. Jacme spent two years searching the plague ravished city of Marseille, finally found the witnesses he needed and inherited the estate. Carpe Diem. The second was Queen Joanna of Naples and Sicily. One of the major celebrities of 14th century Europe, Queen Joanna stood accused of murdering her husband so she could marry her lover. Her trial in the Papal court at Avignon was the must see event of the day, drawing a crowd from every corner of the continent in spite of the plague that ravaged the land. She was found innocent, though later her former in-laws invaded her kingdom forcing her to flee to Provence where she was reuinted with her lover. The third is Agnolo di Tura called Agnolo the Fat. Agnolo, a hard-working man who rose from the lower classes to the upper middle class prior to the plague, wrote one of the better chronicles of the Black Death which sums up the plagues full horror, "And I, Agnolo di Tura, called the fat, buried my wife and five children with my own hands." The Black Death, called the Great Mortality by those who lived through it, was the greatest tragedy ever to befall Europe. (Whether or not its death toll was worse than that of World War II depends in part on how you manipulate the statistics.) While it brought about an end to the lives of millions, the Black Death changed the course of European history and laid the groundwork for the Renaissance. Mr. Kelly's book is a thorough and entertaining account of the Black Death from its origins to its after effects. While he presents the historical facts and the scientific details along with the numbers needed to understand the profound effects the Black Death had, Mr. Kelly's focus on the individual people of the time brings the story home as it brings the story to life. The story of the Black Death is full of scoundrals, heroes and everyone in between. Agnolo di Tura will be familiar to anyone who remembers what they studied in middle school, but others, like Queen Joanna of Naples have been kept out of the history books for one reason or another. Hers is one of many fascinating stories in The Great Mortality. The Great Mortality is a history book for both lovers and non-lovers of history. While there is enough detail in The Great Mortality to answer all but the most obscure questions anyone might have about the Black Death, the book never becomes lost in arcane information or bogged down in academic language. The story of The Great Mortality is always interesting, often moving, and at times inspiring. That all of Agnolo di Tura's children died moves the reader, but so does the knowledge that he carried on in spite of this. In fact, he remarried and became successful enough to complain about his worker's demands for higher wages.
Moderately well written but I was left feeling unsatisfied. In several instances I thought the author was just skimming the surface. There are some unnecessary shots taken at Catholicism and it is worth noting that the mortality rate among Catholic clergy was much greater than that of the general population. This would indicate that instead of "running away", Catholic priests were staying and ministering to the sick. But the subject of the plague is so morbidly interesting to me that I end up finishing everything I've read on the subject. I would suggest checking this book out of the library, though, instead of buying it.

Frequent mentions

1-5 of 28 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

In the bonus section o...

In the bonus section of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time author John Kelly discusses three people who brought the period of Europe's Black Death to life for him. The first is Jacme De Podio, a peasant from Marseille. After Jacme's son, grand-daughter and daughter-in-law all died from the plague, he decided he should inherit his daughter-in-law's estate. To do so he had to find two witnesses who would swear out in court that she had died. Jacme spent two years searching the plague ravished city of Marseille, finally found the witnesses he needed and inherited the estate. Carpe Diem. The second was Queen Joanna of Naples and Sicily. One of the major celebrities of 14th century Europe, Queen Joanna stood accused of murdering her husband so she could marry her lover. Her trial in the Papal court at Avignon was the must see event of the day, drawing a crowd from every corner of the continent in spite of the plague that ravaged the land. She was found innocent, though later her former in-laws invaded her kingdom forcing her to flee to Provence where she was reuinted with her lover. The third is Agnolo di Tura called Agnolo the Fat. Agnolo, a hard-working man who rose from the lower classes to the upper middle class prior to the plague, wrote one of the better chronicles of the Black Death which sums up the plagues full horror, "And I, Agnolo di Tura, called the fat, buried my wife and five children with my own hands." The Black Death, called the Great Mortality by those who lived through it, was the greatest tragedy ever to befall Europe. (Whether or not its death toll was worse than that of World War II depends in part on how you manipulate the statistics.) While it brought about an end to the lives of millions, the Black Death changed the course of European history and laid the groundwork for the Renaissance. Mr. Kelly's book is a thorough and entertaining account of the Black Death from its origins to its after effects. While he presents the historical facts and the scientific details along with the numbers needed to understand the profound effects the Black Death had, Mr. Kelly's focus on the individual people of the time brings the story home as it brings the story to life. The story of the Black Death is full of scoundrals, heroes and everyone in between. Agnolo di Tura will be familiar to anyone who remembers what they studied in middle school, but others, like Queen Joanna of Naples have been kept out of the history books for one reason or another. Hers is one of many fascinating stories in The Great Mortality. The Great Mortality is a history book for both lovers and non-lovers of history. While there is enough detail in The Great Mortality to answer all but the most obscure questions anyone might have about the Black Death, the book never becomes lost in arcane information or bogged down in academic language. The story of The Great Mortality is always interesting, often moving, and at times inspiring. That all of Agnolo di Tura's children died moves the reader, but so does the knowledge that he carried on in spite of this. In fact, he remarried and became successful enough to complain about his worker's demands for higher wages.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

In the bonus section o...

In the bonus section of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, The Most Devastating Plague of All Time author John Kelly discusses three people who brought the period of Europe's Black Death to life for him. The first is Jacme De Podio, a peasant from Marseille. After Jacme's son, grand-daughter and daughter-in-law all died from the plague, he decided he should inherit his daughter-in-law's estate. To do so he had to find two witnesses who would swear out in court that she had died. Jacme spent two years searching the plague ravished city of Marseille, finally found the witnesses he needed and inherited the estate. Carpe Diem. The second was Queen Joanna of Naples and Sicily. One of the major celebrities of 14th century Europe, Queen Joanna stood accused of murdering her husband so she could marry her lover. Her trial in the Papal court at Avignon was the must see event of the day, drawing a crowd from every corner of the continent in spite of the plague that ravaged the land. She was found innocent, though later her former in-laws invaded her kingdom forcing her to flee to Provence where she was reuinted with her lover. The third is Agnolo di Tura called Agnolo the Fat. Agnolo, a hard-working man who rose from the lower classes to the upper middle class prior to the plague, wrote one of the better chronicles of the Black Death which sums up the plagues full horror, "And I, Agnolo di Tura, called the fat, buried my wife and five children with my own hands." The Black Death, called the Great Mortality by those who lived through it, was the greatest tragedy ever to befall Europe. (Whether or not its death toll was worse than that of World War II depends in part on how you manipulate the statistics.) While it brought about an end to the lives of millions, the Black Death changed the course of European history and laid the groundwork for the Renaissance. Mr. Kelly's book is a thorough and entertaining account of the Black Death from its origins to its after effects. While he presents the historical facts and the scientific details along with the numbers needed to understand the profound effects the Black Death had, Mr. Kelly's focus on the individual people of the time brings the story home as it brings the story to life. The story of the Black Death is full of scoundrals, heroes and everyone in between. Agnolo di Tura will be familiar to anyone who remembers what they studied in middle school, but others, like Queen Joanna of Naples have been kept out of the history books for one reason or another. Hers is one of many fascinating stories in The Great Mortality. The Great Mortality is a history book for both lovers and non-lovers of history. While there is enough detail in The Great Mortality to answer all but the most obscure questions anyone might have about the Black Death, the book never becomes lost in arcane information or bogged down in academic language. The story of The Great Mortality is always interesting, often moving, and at times inspiring. That all of Agnolo di Tura's children died moves the reader, but so does the knowledge that he carried on in spite of this. In fact, he remarried and became successful enough to complain about his worker's demands for higher wages.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Excellent study of the...

Excellent study of the bubonic plague that ravaged the medieval world during the mid-14th century. Kelly traces the lineage of the disease, its origins and the way it traveled all over the known world. Beginning in Asia and making its way to Italy, Kelly shows its progression through Europe chapter by chapter, discussing how the plague affected politics, economics and social patterns and traditions. Kelly gives an excellent overview of the devestation the Black Death had on the population, and how it changed the world.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

A well written and ver...

A well written and very entertaining chronicle of the Black Death's visit in the mid-1300s. Maybe a little more detailed than I would have liked. Opened my eyes to the sweeping positive effect such an event can have on the planet. Along with killing some 25 million people, The Plague opened the doors for huge leaps forward in industrial modernization (like the printing press), radically changed the political and economic landscape, and transformed social and gender roles. Medicine had been inching slowly toward science, and away from astrology, and the Plague helped spur vast changes to the entire medical community - doctors, hospitals, and medical education. Maybe it's just me, but I rarely find so detailed an historical take as this. Hard to put it down.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

When studying history ...

When studying history it's easy to get bogged down in statistics and forget that this happened to real people. I appreciated that the author put the history into context. One realizes that not much has changed since the time of the Black Death (human nature, I mean). While the subject is depressing, it is presented in such a way that it is almost a crime to enjoy it as much as I did.


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