The Black Death

It’s healthy, I think, to remind our well-fed modern selves sometimes just how bad things can get. The Holocaust certainly serves this purpose most persistently, but nothing surpasses the Black Death in terms of sheer powerlessness in the face of disaster. With mortality exceeding 50% in some areas, the plague had profound implications for the social and economic development of Europe. The single most salient feature of the plague is how powerless the most advanced socities of the day were to contain or resist its advance. The implications for our own world are humbling. [New York: The Free Press]

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