The Great Mortality by John Kelly
Author: John Kelly
Price: $13.95 in US Dollars + tax
The description on the front cover reads "An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time." This is about as misleading as anything can get. I found the book difficult to read, and often times off topic.
After chapter 2, the plague was being used as a back drop instead of the major topic of the book. Several paragraphs are devoted to character development, interaction between characters, and the plague is just there. The plague is here, there and everywhere - but the course of the book gets off tracks with these other characters. At the end of each chapter I was left wondering "what just happened?" How did these characters interact with the plague? Am I missing something or what??
Lets take chapter 5 - Villani's Last Sentence, which starts on page 101. Inside chapter 5 is a sub-chapter - Rome, Summer 1348. The start of Rome, Summer 1348 reads more like a gangster movie. The first 5 paragraphs are devoted to character development of people who had nothing to do with the plague.
During the following 7 pages, the Plague is mentioned just a few times. After all, this book is "supposed" to be about the great plague. During those 7 pages a drama unfolds between the characters that were introduced. There was no relation or interaction between the characters and the plague. It was if the author was trying to tell the story of gangsters, with the plague as a back drop.
Just about the whole book is laid out in this fashion. The plague is used more of a back drop, or a reason to tell the story of someone that had nothing to do with the plague.
While 30 - 60% of Europe was dying, the book focuses instead on the Templar Knights, or some other life story that is very, very loosely related to the plague.
The author skips around and mentions a second and third great plague. Okkkk,,,,,,????? Just what exactly is this second and third great plague? What years did they happen, just WTF was the author talking about?
The author tried to write a history book, or something along the lines of a gangster novel on mediaeval Europe and tried to use the plague of the 1340s as a back drop. John Kelly failed to relay the fine details of how the Plague affected the average person in mediaeval Europe during the times of the plague. Instead of discussing the real affects of the plague, John Kelly got side tracked, time and time again. The book gets side tracked over and over again with too much time spent on character development. These characters failed to relay what the plague was and how it affected Europe.
Is the book recommenced?
No but HELL NO.
On a person note:
I was expecting this book to be much better then what it was. The author must have attention defect disorder or something. Instead of staying focused on the plague, and the details about it, he gets way off in left field somewhere - then starts walking around in circles.
I feel that I have wasted my money and my time on this book.