Thursday, 22 May 2014

The National Archives: Plague Unclassified (Secrets of the Great Plague Revealed) by Nick Hunter (A & C Black)

Plague Unclassified (Secrets of the Great Plague Revealed)

Written by Nick Hunter

Published by A & C Black

My little history girl loves delving into non-fiction books (in fact it's getting very very difficult to get her to pick up story books in our bi-weekly library visits). The National Archives series from A & C Black are just the sort of book that she can lose hours to, even if the subject is a bit...icky perhaps? When we visited The Museum of London, Charlotte was rather morbidly fascinated by the museum's amazing section on the Great Plague of London in 1665 and the catastrophic effect it had on the capital.

Nick Hunter's book, ripe with brilliant original paintings and illustrations from the era (some rather grim - definitely not a book to read while scoffing your breakfast, Charlotte!) digs right down into the cause of the plague, the strategies that people in power employed to try and offset the devastating effects of the plague, and the huge impact the disease had on Londoners.

Charlotte became quite fascinated by Samuel Pepys (she pronounces his surname "pep-iss" which always makes me giggle) and the encoded diary accounts he kept of his time in London during the plague. Miraculously he escaped (only to be threatened by the great fire of London in the following year. You'd think Sam would've emigrated after that!)

This is a thoroughly absorbing book that really does sift through every detail, from the symptoms of the disease, to the amazing beaked suits that doctors would wear to try and ward off the pestilence. As I mentioned, it's a bit of a morbid subject for my princess-loving little girl, but to see the fire of curiosity kindled in her eyes when she reads stuff like this really makes me one proud daddy. Love my history girl to bits!

Charlotte's best bit: Reading all about the sometimes dangerous and often daft cures that 'quacks' at the time would prescribe to ward off the sickness.

Daddy's Favourite bit: Detailed, and brilliantly compiled account of one of the worst outbreaks of plague ever recorded. Fascinating, quite gory in places but an amazing book for completely absorbing Charlotte in a huge chunk of history.