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Paperback In the Wake of the Plague : The Black Death and the World It Made Book

ISBN: 0060014342

ISBN13: 9780060014346

In the Wake of the Plague : The Black Death and the World It Made

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Book Overview

The Black Death was the fourteenth century's equivalent of a nuclear war. It wiped out one-third of Europe's population, takingmillion lives. And yet, most of what we know about it is wrong. The details of the Plague etched in the minds of terrified schoolchildren -- the hideous black welts, the high fever, and the awful end by respiratory failure -- are more or less accurate. But what the Plague really was and how it made history remain shrouded...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

In the Wake of the Plague

Anyone who is fascinated by history and particularly the effects major diseases have had on world history---this is a must read! Cantor makes the black death come alive in an age of tremendous political and religious influences on science, medical care,sanitation, and economy.

It reads like a novel and I enjoyed it.

I thought this book was great. I read it in a few days and it left me hungry for more. There might be more informative and denser books on the plague but none that I am likely to want to read while curled up on the couch. Why shouldn't history be written in a way that the "masses" can enjoy? Thankfully, there are historians like Cantor who are secure enough in their careers and in their own egos that they don't feel compelled to write impenetrable dribble that no one can understand or will likely attempt to read. I will buy another of Cantor's books, and I will do further research on the black plague because this book whetted my appetite for the history of the medieval people who confronted this great and awful pestilence. I say poo poo to the naysayers, they are a bunch of snobs.

Cantor makes History interesting

Norman Cantor who wrote only a few books before passing away a few years ago, provides a sound examination of the Black Death in a consolidated work. Unless the reader has a PhD in this area of history, a lot of times it can be hard to decipher. Cantor wrote this book and his other works for everyone with an understanding of history but not with the prerequisite of a Phd.

Brilliant Account of Life in Europe in Middle Ages

Since reading some Chaucer in high school, I've been facinated by the Black Death, wondered how it all came about, and what role rats had played. I thought this book was my answer.But Norman Cantor gave me so much more! He expresses ideas in English so beautifully, that it was a pleasure just reading his story. He quickly transports the reader back to the Middle Ages in England and France. He involves the reader personally in the circumstances that set the stage for the plague to rise up. The medievil centuries, the people, the politics, the struggle for survival, the roll of the church, and land ownership, are all brought to life. (Since I read it in early 2001, it also gave me a special perspective of the anthrax scare that occured in the USA later in the year.)"In the Wake of the Plague" has left me a thirst to discover more of the history of the Middle Ages. I have since purchased 2 more Cantor books: "Medievil Lives", and "The Encylopedia of the Middle Ages". Cantor has become my favorite author. Bravo!!

If You Liked A Distant Mirror, You Will Love This Book!

This book deserves more than five stars for being the most interesting, enjoyable and insightful book I have read about the Middle Ages.In the title, I compare this book to A Distant Mirror. In the Wake of the Plague has the advantage of being shorter, more concise, and more interesting. As an example of the difference, Professor Cantor recounts the advice he always gave his students. If they ever saw someone taking a shower next to them with black sores under their arm pits, they should begin to leave the shower. If at the same time, they saw a rat, they should run at once without bothering to dress. Now, how many history books contain material like that? If history books were all like this one, everyone would want to study history. Professor Cantor combines a keen intellect, a wonderful sense of irony, great knowledge, and the common touch to provide a fascinating story about what happened during the Black Death in Europe and what its consequences were. It is estimated that more than one-third of Europe's population died in 1347-1350 from what they called "the pestilence." While most history books describe this as coming from Bubonic Plague, Professor Cantor makes a strong case for Anthrax also being involved. Think of this as being like having biological warfare introduced into a major population, with almost all those who sicken dying within two weeks. The population did not reach the same levels in Europe again until around 1750.Professor Cantor shrewdly chooses England and a few notable individuals to take this epic crisis and personalize it. The deaths of just a few people had far-ranging consequences on European history. For example, Edward III's daughter, Princess Joan, died of the pestilence in Bordeaux on her way to marry Prince Pedro, the heir of Castile. Her death cost the English the chance to establish a major position in Spain that they were unable to win by force of arms over the next hundred years. Two of the church's most advanced thinkers, Thomas of Birmingham (abbot of Halesowen) and William of Occam were victims also. If they had lived, scientific thought might well have advanced much sooner. Today's world might have the science that we will only experience in 2200 if they had lived.The subsequent shortages of people caused the English forces to be weaker on the continent against the French. Further, dynastic deaths caused the Plantagenets to be at war with one another (in the War of the Roses) so they were divided when Joan of Arc led the French to victory. Thus, British influence crested in Europe although the Hundred Years' War had a long time to go. In Spain, France, and Germany, Jews were often accused of "poisoning the water" to create the deaths. Many pogroms followed, and many Jews moved to Poland as a result.But there were some benefits. Wonderful tapestries were created to hang over windows to keep out "the miasma" that many believed brought the pestilence. Serfdom declined more rapidly. Th
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