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The Great Mortality

An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time
Written by: John Kelly
Narrated by: Matthew Lloyd Davies
Length: 12 hrs and 55 mins
Categories: History, Europe
4.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

La moria grandissima began its terrible journey across the European and Asian continents in 1347, leaving unimaginable devastation in its wake. Five years later, 25 million people were dead, felled by the scourge that would come to be called the Black Death. The Great Mortality is the extraordinary epic account of the worst natural disaster in European history - a drama of courage, cowardice, misery, madness, and sacrifice that brilliantly illuminates humankind's darkest days when an old world ended and a new world was born.

©2005 John Kelly (P)2018 Tantor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • brooke browning
  • 2019-08-04

OUTSTANDING

I listen to audiobooks about history constantly but this is the only one I’ve listened to straight through over the course of a day. Writing consists of vivid storytelling interwoven so deftly with scientific and historical information that you accidentally learn a ton while being entertained. The narrator is the best I’ve heard and his renditions of sad poems, various accents, and individual characters earn him my Best Ever Award.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-08-25

Start with Chapter 15 of 16 in Audio Book

This is a personal tale that starts then jumps to now and back again. This is a bit jittery at times, especially when listening, but the author anticipates the reader's questions and concerns. The narrator is easy to listen to. The text is hopeful, even in the mist of great death, and the reader does a good job conveying this tone. Chapter 15 shares the author's relationship with the subject such that the reader can understand why the Black Death is personified. Good read and recommended in the booklet that comes with The Great Courses series on the Black Death. Dr. T.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-05-02

Mixed feelings

The good: Well-researched. Reader has a pleasant voice.

The bad: The (probably necessary) duplication of information got a bit annoying. The reader’s delivery style on this book would have been better suited to a bedtime story, it was so measured and mellow.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • CartoChick
  • 2019-01-29

Fantastic book well read

My favorite book on the Black Death; I’ve read about 5. Full of primary sources. Very enjoyable if not cheery.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Marian
  • 2019-04-26

Take Home Lesson: Take a Daily Bath!

I will never look at Marmot brand down jackets the same way again!! This is an older book from 2006 that has held up well enough for my Audible reading in 2019. The systematic Grand Tour from city to city and region to region succeeds in communicating the flow of the Great Plague. Lots of surprising treats - - - can you imagine someone being admired in any age or under any conditions for never taking a bath in their whole life??? I accept the research and opinions of the author he offers for historic plague outbreaks. I think some readers would find the level of detail tiring, but I appreciated it and re-listened to several chapters. The reader performs with a British accent; I found it to be acceptable and not distracting to my California dialect ears. One flaw: the Audible book does not have labelled chapters for the app. This makes it difficult to navigate if you use more than one Audible listening device as the syncing was also not perfect every time. I deduct one star because of the book's age without any effort to offer an update for the Audible release.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • denderooo
  • 2019-01-01

Terrible Narration

The narrator sounds seems to think that the way to make a point is to lower your voice to a whisper at the end of the sentence. That is an annoying affectation to begin with, but when you're finding yourself constantly adjusting the volume to account for it, it's time to return the book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • mandi
  • 2018-08-16

Circuitous and unoriginal!

Narration: The narrator's pitiously fake English accent draws greatly away from the actual book. He tries much too hard to sound dramatic.

Book: The narrative winds around itself, again and again. Telling and re-telling the same story and over, and jumping around chronologically and geographically with no apparent timeline or propose.

Besides being poorly written, the book takes a great deal from Dorsey Armstrong's lecture series, "The Black Death- The World's Most Devastating Plague"... in some parts directly quoting comparisons that Ms Armstrong came up with for her lecture series. Specifically a line about certain deaths being like "an Agatha Christi murder mystery" is taken directly from the lecture.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful