The Life of the Mind common book selection for the Class of 2011 is Norman F. Cantor’s In the Wake of the Plague.
The best book on the Black Death, not just because it’s up-to-date with recent science and scholarship, but also because of Cantor’s trenchancy, economy, discrimination, and black humour.
—Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, University of Oxford
About the Book
The Black Death was the fourteenth century’s equivalent of a nuclear war. It wiped out one-third of Europe’s population, takingmillion lives. And yet, most of what we know about it is wrong. The details of the Plague etched in the minds of terrified schoolchildren — the hideous black welts, the high fever, and the awful end by respiratory failure — are more or less accurate. But what the Plague really was and how it made history remain shrouded in a haze of myths.
Now, Norman Cantor, the premier historian of the Middle Ages, draws together the most recent scientific discoveries and groundbreaking historical research to pierce the mist and tell the story of the Black Death as a gripping, intimate narrative.
Praise for In the Wake of the Plague
Cantor provides a lovely introduction to the Black Plague for the general reader. He writes beautifully and exhibits a masterly grasp of the era he has long studied.
He makes a particularly compelling case that the death of Thomas Bradwardine, newly consecrated archbishop of Canterbury, had deep repercussions for the development of both science and religion. This book will be welcomed by anyone who wants a good introduction to the topic.
About the Author
Norman F. Cantor was Emeritus Professor of History, Sociology, and Comparative Literature at New York University. His many books include In the Wake of the Plague, Inventing the Middle Ages, and The Civilization of the Middle Ages, the most widely read narrative of the Middle Ages in the English language. He died in 2004.