The Black Death: A Personal History by John Hatcher

The Black Death: A Personal History, John Hatcher, 2008


My favorite quote: “PESTILENCE!” (That’s what they called the Black Death back then, and hoo-boy, did they like saying that word. “PESTILENCE!” in all caps, just like that. That’s how you have to do it. I don’t make the rules

Most interesting characters: Master John, a priest; The Black Death, a ruthless disease if ever there was one 

Opening scene: John Hatcher opens The Black Death: A Personal History with a preface titled “The Nature of this Book,” in which he describes this book as “an experiment in combining history and fiction.” 

The gist: The Black Death: A Personal History, follows fictional characters through the decidedly not-fictional world of the Black Plague 

Greatest strengths: I’ve spent my life fascinated by the Black Plague, reading everything I can get my hands on, and I have to say, John Hatcher knows his stuff. The Black Death: A Personal History goes a little deeper than most accounts, giving readers a broad picture of the devastation the Black Plague did — not only to the people who lived during that time, but the effect it had on societal practices and the economy, and the way it leveled the playing field between workers and employers 

Standout achievements: Most books that mix fiction with fact in this way don’t work for me. Often that’s because authors will take historical liberties to suit their characters’ needs. Under most circumstances, I don’t have anything against artistic license, but when you’re writing about something as globally devastating as the Black Plague, I don’t think it needs to be fictionalized in any way. That’s the kind of story that fiction can’t improve upon, and I’m happy to say that John Hatcher took no such liberties 

Fun Facts: Over the course of just three or four years, the Black Death reduced the European population from 80 million to about 30 million. That’s 50 million people dead in under five years. That’s seriously staggering. I’ve always said that if anyone in history ever had the right to think the apocalypse was truly upon them, it was those who lived during the Black Plague. Of all the historical events I’ve ever researched, the Black Plague, if you really look into it, puts things into perspective. The truth is, few of us know what real catastrophe is     

Other media: N/A (not that there’s any shortage of material out there on the subject)

Additional thoughts: While reading this book, I started playing a drinking game with myself. Every time I saw the word “PESTILENCE!” I took a shot. I was so shit-faced by the time I finished the book that I can’t remember the ending — but given the nature of the story of the Black Death, I think it’s safe to assume it probably wasn’t a happy one 

Hit or Miss: Hit

Haunt me:

Read The Black Death A Personal History

Published by Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross grew up on horror novels and scary movies, and by the age of eight, began writing his own stories. First published in 2012, he has since co-authored The Cliffhouse Haunting and Mother with Tamara Thorne and is working on several other projects. His debut solo novel, The Crimson Corset, was an Amazon bestseller. The Black Wasp, book 3 in The Vampires of Crimson Cove series is on its way. Find out more about him at: ********************************************************************************************* In collaboration, Thorne and Cross are currently writing several novels, including the next volume in the continuing gothic series, The Ravencrest Saga. Their first novel, The Cliffhouse Haunting, was an immediate bestseller. Together, they hosted the horror-themed radio show Thorne & Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE! which featured such guests as Anne Rice of The Vampire Chronicles, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels, Jay Bonansinga of The Walking Dead series, Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake novels, Peter Atkins, screenwriter of Hellraiser 2, 3, and 4, worldwide bestseller V.C. Andrews, Kim Harrison of the Hollows series, and New York Times best sellers Preston & Child, Christopher Rice, and Christopher Moore. ********************************************************************************************** Currently, Thorne & Cross are hosts of Thorne & Cross: Carnival Macabre, where listeners can discover all manner of demented delights, unearth terrifying treasures, and explore the dark side of the arts.

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