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THE BLACK DEATH by Peter Britton


by Peter Britton & developed by TimeMaps

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2013
Publisher: TimeMaps

A mobile version of a much more expensive online visual aid that maps the spread of the 14th-century pandemic.

Above a row of seven fixed buttons on a timeline that runs from 1346 to 1351 is a pale, sparsely labeled map that shows most of Africa and Eurasia. Tapping the buttons changes the display. A blot of solid black spreads from an area north of the Caspian Sea in 1346 to encompass, by 1351, southern Japan to western Africa. Overlaid on that, viewers can opt to see about two dozen cities, plus major trade routes; by tapping scattered “I” icons, they can bring up general information in side windows about the time’s major political entities and regional economics, brief quotes from contemporary chroniclers, details of the plague’s spread and some of its long-term consequences. Along with some typos, claims that rats (rather than their fleas) were plague carriers and the implication that the church always opposed pogroms against European Jews are, at best, simplistic. Furthermore, there is no audio, video or (aside from the aforementioned blot) animation, and the extensive review questions supplied by the online version have been trimmed away (a set of discussion/essay topics labeled “Learning Challenges” remains).

A dispensable supplement to the nondigital likes of James Cross Giblin’s When Plague Strikes (1995), superficial of content and, by current standards, feature-poor. (iPad informational app. 9-11)