Some reviews The Black Death by Sean Martin on Amazon
historical event has its disadvantages, Martin gave the reader a very basic and broad ideas and left it at that with no further detail.
He first explains the possible point of the origin of the dieses from China/ Mongolia in approximately 1336-1352. Although this book is very short and straight to the point I am very impressed with the author for explain all the information he did in seven chapters, his response to the government, religious and personal impact on the black death. Sean Martin describes the contemporary responses to the plague and makes it clear how helpless doctors and medicine were in that time period. He explains how the Jews blamed the Christians for the spread of the plague and how they saw it as a wrath from God.
The Black Death is the most commonly known name given to the bubonic plague. The plague swept from central Asia through Europe which killed a third of Europe’s population. Sean Martin Answers mostly all the basic questions someone would have about the bubonic plague. Martin answers the who, what, when, where and why. Which he does very well.
Sean Martin is an Anglo-Irish writer and film director he has written popular books on the Knights Templar and the Cathars that appear on History channel. Sean Martin is a good writer overall.
“The Black Death”, Sean Martin, Chartwell Books, NJ, 2007. ISBN 10:0-7858-2289-5, HC 158/131. Appendix 10 pgs. further reads 10 pgs., Index 6 pgs. 7″ x 5″.
A scholarly treatise with an overtly easy read for enhanced understandability and readability to the non-scientific layperson, this book is perhaps an important one in understanding the more complex issues raised by the specter of epidemic and pandemic `plagues’ which have wrought havoc on the Earth’s populations and entire nations, cultures and religions since first recorded case in 430 BC. This book concentrates largely on the “Black Plague” which struck between 1328 and 1352, mainly years 1347 to 1349, but deals also with lesser plagues and some closely related pestilences whose etiology remains obscure but subject to knowledgeable discourse, and includes Ebola, small pox (Red Plague), dysenteries, typhus, anthrax, influenzas, and a variety of named Plagues (Great, Grey, Red, bubonic etc.).
This study was necessarily based on written historical records, many originally chronicled in archives of churches, etc. and written by survivors of the disease. The response of the Church to the origin, impact and dealings with the sick is detailed.
Etiology of “Black Death” was eventually ascribed to humans infected with bacterium Yesinia pestis after bitten and thus inoculated by the rat flea Xenopsylla cheopsis. There followed an almost immediate course of sepsis with swollen lymphatic nodes or buboes that suppurate, pneumonias, septic syndrome and death usually within 1-3 days. Mortality rates vary from 60-95%, populations often decimated 25-30%. The epidemiology of the disease is nicely discussed by the author who traces the initial cases from the Mediterranean to world-wide dissemination via trade routes, cargo ships, caravans, etc. via rats, fleas and human contacts.
I read this short little book in a few hours. The author writes very well and his light style makes the subject enjoyable. Unfortunately, with the exception of some interesting material on the ‘Flagellants’, most of the information he provides has been dealt with in depth in quite a number of other books on the subject, such as the excellent Black Death by Phillip Zeigler. Also, had the author simply written a book about historical pandemics and left it at that, the book might have impressed me a little more. However, he chose to write a book about the Plague using the title ‘The Black Death’ and therein lies what I see as one of the flaws of the book. At the very beginning, Mr Martin unequivocally declared that the pathogen responsible for the first, second and third pandemics was ‘Yersinia Pestis’ and maintains this a the central thesis of the book. Today, however, there is a growing belief that the disease that ravaged Europe in the middle ages (and now referred to as the ‘Black Death’) is not the same disease whose cause was isolated as the Bubonic Plague organism during an outbreak in China in the 19th Century. Only in the final chapter does the author even acknowledge the the existence of any controversy and then he fails to deal with it in any meaningful way. I don’t believe that any decent book on this interesting subject can afford to so cavalier with the issue today.