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A Time to Dance, a Time to Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518 Paperback – 7 May 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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  • A Time to Dance, a Time to Die: The Extraordinary Story of the Dancing Plague of 1518
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781848310537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848310537
  • ASIN: 1848310536
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 271,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


‘Waller’s book should interest both historians and scientists, while the general reader will enjoy his colourful depictions of medieval life.’ Author: BBC Focus Magazine

‘An interesting and enjoyable read, which is not merely of historical interest, but also helps to explain some modern-day psychological phenomena.’ Author: Common Reader

‘A startling, chilling and utterly compelling account.’ Author: Good Book Guide

‘A book to make you grateful for the historical increase in human sanity.’ Author: New Scientist

'‘A Time to Dance, A Time to Die’ is a medically sound, historically accurate link to the late medieval zeitgeist.’ Author: Fortean Times

‘Waller does a remarkable job of getting to the causes of the epidemic, looking at things from every angle.... Waller doesn't lay it on too thick, and brings the era alive to us.’ Author: Guardian

‘A compelling 'whatdunnit'’ Author: Times

‘A compelling history of workhouse children in the industrial revolution.' Author: Guardian

'Waller writes with a passion and flair which commands the reader's attention.' Author: Times Literary Supplement

'History approaching its best... combines a gripping story with a historian's attention to detail and context.' Author: Australian


In July 1518 a terrifying and mysterious plague struck the medieval city of Strasbourg. Hundreds of men and women danced wildly, day after day, in the punishing summer heat. Their feet blistered and bled, and their limbs ached with fatigue, but they simply could not stop. By the time the epidemic subsided, heat and exhaustion had claimed an untold number of lives, leaving thousands bewildered and bereaved, and an enduring enigma for future generations. This book explains why Strasbourg's dancing plague took place. In doing so it leads us into a largely vanished world, evoking the sights, sounds, aromas, diseases and hardships, the fervent super naturalism and the desperate hedonism of the late medieval world. Not only a fascinating historical detective story, "A Time to Dance, A Time to Die" is also an exploration into the strangest capabilities of the human mind and the extremes to which fear and irrationality can lead us.

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7 customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

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20 November 2015
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
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10 July 2013
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4 November 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
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30 August 2009
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28 September 2008
Format: Hardcover
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