Plague: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#307]
Plague: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#307]


  • Explores the historical impact of the plague over the centuries, focusing on how people coped with the disease and how governments fought it
  • Examines the impact of plague on settlements, local histories, art and literature, and in film
  • Explores the causes of historic plagues
  • Reflects upon the impact plagues of the past have had on modern ideas of public health

New to this Edition:

  • Considers the modern day resonance of the plague with issues such as Coronavirus
  • Incorporates very recent evidence on the nature of plague gained from work on ancient DNA, which settles some old disputes about plague
  • Includes recently published work on plague in the Middle East

Throughout history plague has been the cause of many major catastrophes. It was responsible for the 'Plague of Justinian' in 542, the Black Death of 1348, and the Great Plague of London in 1665, as well as for devastating epidemics in China and India between the 1890s and 1920s. In the 21st century Coronavirus pandemics have served as a powerful reminder that we have not escaped the global impact of epidemic diseases.
In this Very Short Introduction, Paul Slack takes a global approach to explore the historical and social impact of plague over the centuries, looking at the ways in which it has been interpreted, and the powerful images it has left behind in art and literature. Examining what plague meant for those who suffered from it, and how governments began to fight against it, he demonstrates the impact plague has had on modern notions of public health, and how it has shaped our history. This new edition also includes evidence on the nature of plague taken from recent discoveries in ancient DNA as well as new research on plague in the Middle East.


List of Illustrations
1:Plague: what's in a name??
2:Pandemics and epidemics
3:Big impacts: the Black Death
4:Private horrors
5:Public health
6:Enduring images
7:The lessons of histories
Further Reading


Paul Slack is Emeritus Professor of Early Modern Social History at Oxford University. He is the author of The Impact of Plague in Tudor and Stuart England, (OUP , 1990), and The Invention of Improvement: Information and Material Progress in Seventeenth-Century England, (OUP 2015), which won the Samuel Pepys Prize for 2015. He has been the Editor of the journal Past and Present, is a Fellow of the British Academy, and was Principal of Linacre College, Oxford, until 2010.

Review from previous edition
"Slack takes a thematic approach to the global and comparative history of plague that provides a wonderful survey for the newcomer to the topic, while still providing food for thought to readers already well versed in the literature." - Patrick Wallis, LPS

"This book is not a textbook on Pasteurella pestis. Rather, using the disease it causes as a link, the text has the potential to attract the interest and attention of a wide range of readers, encompassing historical, social, geographical and economic factors and the role they played in changing European and wider social development. In these days of internet access, soundbites and the decline of text on paper, this book presents an excellent opportunity for those who wish for an absorbing and educational narrative, contained within an extremely portable package and with no risk of the battery losing its charge at an inconvenient moment." - The Bulletin of The Royal College of Pathologists, April 2013


ISBN : 9780198871118

Paul Slack
168 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions





Plague: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#307]

Plague: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#307]

Plague: A Very Short Introduction (2nd edition) [#307]