The Black Death is the name commonly given to the plague which arrived in Europe in 1347 and proceeded to ravage the continent with around a third of the population dying as a result. However as the authors show, the 'Black Death' was but the first manifestation in Europe of a cyclic series of epidemics comprising what is known as the Second Great Pandemic.
This is not a detailed history of the plague, but rather a popular overview as to its impact and the response of those afflicted in seeking source and prevention, both theological and medical. Social structures changed in the aftermath of the plague with increased social mobility as vacancies were created almost overnight and as state solutions were imposed to attempt to detect and minimise the spread of the plague.
Two specific attacks of plague are dealt with in detail - the Great Plague of 1665 in London, and the plague of 1720 in Marseilles. The former is probably familiar to most English speaking readers. It's treatment is spoiled by the authors' detailing the course of the casualties in terms of the current population of London - a rather pointless and confusing exercise. I found the account of the Marseilles plague more interesting as I was unfamiliar with this last outbreak of plague in Western Europe, and the eye-witness accounts of the infighting amongst the medical professions and civil authorities were illuminating.
There are inconsistencies - there is some confusion as to when smallpox was recorded in Europe - having initially noted a smallpox epidemic in Roman Italy in AD 165, it is later stated that smallpox was unknown to the ancient world and not described until 910. Minor irritations - most readers will not require a gloss on the meaning of 'catamite'; although the acronyms BSE and CJD should have been fully defined other than as 'Mad Cow Disease'; and if a French proverb is used, it should be in French...
In summation, a readable overview of the Black Death and its successors which sets the pandemic in a European context across four centuries.