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Books, Journals, New Media
November 3, 2004

The Plague

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(17):2153-2159. doi:10.1001/jama.292.17.2158

The Great Plague is a great read. The authors skillfully integrate evidence from a number of sources, and their enthusiasm for their subject is infectious.

The clever use of a range of sources attached to persons well-known beyond the area of scholarship associated with plague—Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn, the Reverend Ralph Josselin, and others—adds gravitas to the unfolding story while providing familiarity with the chosen cast. The authors account of the plague year is much more historical than the gripping but spurious and journalistic Journal of the Plague Year compiled by Daniel Defoe circa 1720. A. Lloyd Moote is a historian and Dorothy Moote is a microbiologist with professional experience of the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic in Los Angeles, as well as with an enzootic of plague in the squirrel population there. Both had previously studied aspects of the history of plague.