Our Brown Honors Common Reading this fall was "The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time" by John Kelly. Kelly was here on Campus, Thursday, September 22 for a lecture in Goodrich Chapel at 7:00pm.

So begins, in almost fairy-tale fashion, a contemporary account of the worst natural disaster in European History - what we call the Black Death, and what the generation who lived through it called la moria grandissima: "the great mortality."

The Great Mortality is John Kelly's compelling narrative account of the medieval plague, from its beginnings on the desolate, windswept steppes of Central Asia to its journey through the teeming cities of Europe.

The Great Mortality also looks at new theories about the cause of the plague and takes into account why some scientists and historians believe that the Black Death was an outbreak not of bubonic plague, but of another infectious illness - perhaps anthrax or a disease like Ebola.

John Kelly, who holds a graduate degree in European history, is the author and coauthor of ten books on science, medicine, and human behavior, including Three on the Edge, which Publishers Weekly called the work of "an expert storyteller." He lives in New York city.

CSPAN did broadcast Mr. Kelly's talk.