THE BLACK DEATH by George Deaux


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The great Black Death of 1347 destroyed, some authorities maintain, more than half the population of medieval Europe. Inevitably, therefore, it had social, economic and political consequences far beyond its immediate interest as a medical phenomenon and it is to Mr. Deaux' credit that he not only records the progress of the plague throughout Europe, but also very ably traces its impact upon the quality of human life in the late Middle Ages and in the centuries following. In that respect, and also so far as quality of reportage and felicity of style are concerned, the present work is superior to Philip Ziegler's current popularization on the same subject (p. 431). Deaux' book, however, is lopsided. The author, having determined to paint the ""big picture,"" then proceeds, for unrevealed reasons, to treat in some detail the Death in England, while giving comparatively scanty coverage to the Continent--despite the fact that it was in France, Germany and Italy, and not on the backwater Isle, that the course of history was being laid out. This, while not destroying the value of the book, considerably diminishes its usefulness. The serious reader, therefore, while awaiting a more balanced treatment than that of Mr. Deaux, and a more scholarly and integrated one than that of Mr. Ziegler, must still be referred to the aging classics of Coulton and Johannes Nohl.

Pub Date: July 21st, 1969
Publisher: Weybright & Talley