The Great Plague

The Great Plague

3.1 (37 ratings by Goodreads)
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The Great Plague of 1665-6 is the best known epidemic in English history. Carried by fleas, the bubonic plague decimated the population of England in a little over a year. The disease had never been absent in England since the Black Death in 1348, but there had been ten virtually plague-free years from 1655. People thought that perhaps the scourge had gone for ever. But in 1665 it returned with a vengeance. The total number of deaths attributable to that one outbreak is estimated at up to 130,000. In London alone 100,000 out of a total population of 500,000 more

Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 137 x 240 x 20mm | 340g
  • ISIS Publishing
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Large type / large print
  • New ed of Large Print ed
  • 0753154935
  • 9780753154939

Review Text

Whether known as the Black Death, the Contagion, the Pestilence, the Sickness or the Great Plague, an epidemic of bubonic plague has the power to devastate populations and Western Europe suffered repeated outbreaks from the 1340s until the 1720s. During this time the plague made an enormous impact on Europe and not only on its economy and society. Its beliefs, literature and art were all influenced by the fact and fiction of the disease. Populations could be dramatically reduced over incredibly short timeframes, social contacts broke down and trade was interrupted as fear of contamination outweighed economic needs. One of the most infamous epidemics of the plague in England occurred between 1665 and 1666, when over 20 per cent of London's population succumbed and whole villages were destroyed by the onslaught. This was the Great Plague as described by Pepys and Defoe, where superstitious practices vied with medical knowledge and neither could find the cause or offer a cure. The plague remains a topic of enduring fascination for historians, both amateur and professional, and Stephen Porter's book manages to cater to both categories. His work is thoroughly researched, well documented and paints a disturbing picture of the havoc an incurable killer disease can wreak, even on a well-ordered society. Porter examines, in detail, the effect that the disease had on 17th-century England, first concentrating on London and other urban populations before turning his attention towards rural communities. He ends by putting the plague into perspective, assessing its long-term effects on society and discussing why the 1660s outbreak was the last of its kind. In an era when the threat of biological weapons hangs over our heads and when fear of smallpox or anthrax can, on its own, bring disruption and panic this book is especially topical and stimulating. (Kirkus UK)show more

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37 ratings
3.1 out of 5 stars
5 11% (4)
4 27% (10)
3 30% (11)
2 27% (10)
1 5% (2)
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