The Great Mortality2 - Survey of World History to 1550...

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Survey of World History to 1550 Professor John Boswell 5 December 2006 The Great Mortality Kelly, John A. The Great Mortality. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005. The Great Mortality serves to inform readers of the movement and destruction of the Black Death. The author describes the movement of the plague beginning in Asia and storming through Europe. In great detail, the death caused by this epidemic is illustrated and explained. Born in Boston, John Kelly obtained a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s degree from New York University. Kelly began his career by writing about medical science and eventually moved to European history. He has authored nine books. Noticing similarities between aids and the Black Death, Kelly approached the subject with both interest and apprehension. Of the three articles that I found in the Book Review Digest , all three articles indicate that Kelly is a trustworthy, veteran author, and all three articles agree that The Great Mortality is a reliable source of information regarding the Black Death. The Kirkus Reviews had a slightly less than stellar opinion of the novel, describing Kelly’s tendency to “ramble… in favor of tangents.” The review also makes a special note of the ample amount of anecdotes that the author uses throughout the novel. Although the article does not specifically take a stance on the quality of the book, it is obvious to see that the author feels that there are better books on the market about the Black Death. Similar to the previous article, the Library Journal finds The Great Mortality to be lacking in areas and even recommends a different book for readers interested in the subject to read. Differing largely in opinion,
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Publishers Weekly found the novel to be “accessible and engrossing,” and doesn’t describe any fault in the book during the review. The novel begins with a lengthy description of Caffa and Genoa, the areas in which the spread of the plague is though to have begun. Also in this section, is a scientific description of what the plague actually consists. The plague had two forms, both bacteria, one form that attacked the immune system and another that was pneumonic in nature, attacking the lungs leaving the sufferers with a terrible bloody cough. The typical symptoms of the plague were large (described throughout the novel as the size of an almond to the size of a fist) boils, lesions of a purple color and a distinctive smell. The author frequently compares the plague to aids in the
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