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Book and Media Reviews
February 8, 2006

Black Death

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;295(6):698-699. doi:10.1001/jama.295.6.698

Ole Benedictow, professor of history at the University of Oslo, provides in this book an essential conspectus of many aspects of current debates about the Black Death, its causes and effects. So far as causes are concerned, Benedictow is a traditionalist: a bubonic-and-associated-plagues man, pure and simple. Not for him upstart ideas about anthrax, Ebola fever, or the notion that the Black Death “was any disease other than the rat-based bubonic plague (now known as Yersinia pestis)”1(p1) (although the latter author eventually concedes, “In place of Yersinia pestis I offer no alternatives”1(p248)).