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Publisher's Summary

The world has been fundamentally changed by the shock and devastation of a 21st century pandemic. COVID-19 has claimed six million lives; we process a daily deluge of often conflicting and/or overwhelming information; and humanity has no way of knowing when this collective trauma will finally end. Will our lives ever be the same again? It seems not.

Now, try to imagine the plague that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages and beyond: more than 25 million dead. Almost 400 years of outbreaks caused by a bacterium that would not be identified until the 19th century. The mortality rate was close to 85%, with as much as 70% of the population wiped out in some locations. Superstition was pervasive, and medical practices were frequently ineffective and harmful. What caused this tragedy, and what could have been done about it? For years, we thought we knew … but we often had it wrong. 

In The Black Death: New Lessons from Recent Research, celebrated medievalist Dorsey Armstrong shares the fascinating new story of this old pandemic—revealed by dedicated researchers working with 21st-century technologies and a knowledge of language and history that now provide input from all geographic areas of the medieval world. In seven engaging lectures, Professor Armstrong corrects explanations of the pandemic that are now known to be inaccurate and offers a more robust description of plague biology than has ever been known. COVID-19 isn’t likely to be humanity’s last experience with a zoonotic disease, so what can we learn now from these two pandemics that could help us in the future?

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2022 The Great Courses (P)2022 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about The Black Death: New Lessons from Recent Research

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Excellent followup to original course


Dorsey provides an interesting update and corrections to topics covered. In her original course.

2 people found this helpful

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Too much personal commentary on current political

Less substance than her earlier courses. Too woke. Not interested in her political commentary.

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Awesome follow up to a great series

You definitely should listen to Dr. Armstrong's original series on The Black Death before this one, it is fantastic and much more comprehensive.

This was a perfect follow up. New research is presented, and the comparisons between Plague and COVID-19 are fascinating. I highly recommend both of these complementarity lecture series.

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Worthwhile update.

Narration not quite as smooth as that of previous book, whic I highly recommend.

Interesting, important information helps us put into perspective the COVID experiences.

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Not strictly scientific

Difficult to listen to. Topics presented with biased opinions inserted. Entertains thoughts of COVID parallel thrown in.

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Dorsey Armstrong

I have loved everything I have listened to or read by her. She is so knowledgeable and presents the information in a way that actually make it fun to learn.

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  • Ludy
  • 07-30-22

Enlightening facts enjoyably presented

New research on the transmission of this disease through evolution, cultural,commercial and military means. Presented in a clear manner easily understood by a untrained but inquiring mind.