In "The Black Death" the author Phillip Ziegler attempts to fully describe the Plague that struck Europe in 1338 and remained until 1665. The year of the great Plague of London Ziegler tries to give an unbiased account of the Plague by compiling information from contradictory sources. Ziegler begins the book with the Tartans catapulting diseased corpses into Genoese as the Genoese escape back to Europe. Following this, the author provides some insight into the Plague in Italy, Germany, and France, in which he highlights the persecution of Jews, who became the scapegoat for the Plague in Germany.
The majority of the book discusses the Plague in England, dealing with the people that died. Ziegler doesn't argue an opinion of his findings. He openly admits that he has done no original research. Instead, he presents a collection of materials and draws some conclusions based on their findings. Ziegler's intention in writing "The Black Death', is to provide an accurate an unbiased account of the plague that struck Europe in 1338, and to appeal to human emotions through eye witness accounts. Ziegler begins with different accounts on how the plague arrived in Europe.
After presenting a few ideas, poisonous fumes, or unburned or unburied corpses, Ziegler finds the real truth of the plagues origin in a bacteria known as Pasteur Ella Pestis. Pasteur Ella Pestis, which forms itself within the's iles of the dead corpses, head found homes in the bloodstream of an animal or the stomach of a flea (Ziegler 25). Ziegler formulates the truth through the evidence provided for each, but it still offers information on the other ideas so it wouldn't be biased. This section is crucial for the reader's understanding of the plague.
Ziegler very accurately depicts the plagues origin and the uncertainty that surrounds it. The following few chapters discuss countries such as Italy, France, and Germany. This is a prelude to the many chapters on England that follow. However, the majority of the book deals with England, because England has the best documentation.
The author presents all sides of issues such as the number of casualties, how the church was affected and what happened to wages and price levels, and draws reasonable conclusions. The author also focuses on really appealing to human emotions. What chapter also deals with what it would be like to live in a village before and after it was ravaged by the plague. Ziegler's intention is to put the statistics into human terms.
He appeals the human condition by producing eyewitness accounts. For example, Boccaccio's de script of it. The Decameron is a compelling first hand account, which Ziegler assesses in his book. Ziegler is careful to weigh theses accounts with those oh historians. Ziegler provides a compelling account of the plague that pulverized Europe in 1338. A review written by Wickengee, entitled "A Caution Reason", Pardemico claims, "Ziegler has provided an overview of the causes and effects of the plague that changed the face of Europe in such a way that all scholarly and statistical sources are presented in digest form, with all their contradictions, alongside contemporary accounts that still arouse awe and horror even today in our error of antimicrobial drugs".
(Wickengee) This is true, the author shows the gaps in historical research without trying to gross them over. Wickengee also note Ziegler's focus on Europe rather than Asia. This is because of the scant records left from Asia. Ziegler chose to focus on Europe because of the multitude of research left from Europe. Mshawpyle also reviews Ziegler's book in his article "Bring Out your Dead".
Mshawpyle adds that Ziegler "took the definite academic and statistical works and synthesized them (this is what really gets to the academics) into a factually impeccable and highly readable account". (Mshawpyle) Ziegler's book is a sound and compelling account of the plague, as both other writers would agree. They also discuss his notion on church corruption and German anti-semitism. Ziegler provides a balanced, popular overview by a non-specialist. He clearly has written and presents the ravages of "The Black Death". He does an excellent job of finding various sources of information, even secondary sources, and draw from his findings.
Ziegler successfully fulfills his main goals, by providing an unbiased outlook on the Plague of Europe and by appealing to the human condition through 1st hand accounts.
1. "The Black Death" Phillip Ziegler 2. "A Caution Reason" Wickengee 3. "Bring Out your Dead" Mshawpyle.