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Worst year ever? Historian says 2020 doesn’t even make the top five

3AW Mornings
Article image for Worst year ever? Historian says 2020 doesn’t even make the top five

Time magazine has declared 2020 the ‘worst year ever’ but a historian says it doesn’t even make the top five.

Professor of history at Arizona State University, Catherine O’Donnell, says “it gets a lot worse than this”.

Here are the years she says were worse.

Years that were worse than 2020:

  • THE ENTIRE 14TH CENTURY: “You have the bubonic plague, where the death rate is just so much higher than COVID, and whole societies are breaking down. People literally think it might be the end of the world.”
  • 1492: “If you’re an indigenous person in the Americas that’s just a dreadful year. The strange group arrives, death starts spreading out in wave and ways you don’t understand.”
  • 1520: “If you’re an Aztec your whole civilisation is conquered by this ragtag band of adventurers.”
  • 1918: “He world is staggering out of World War I and straight into a pandemic … again with just horrific death rates.”

But Professor O’Donnell says that doesn’t mean 2020 isn’t a bad year.

“I don’t mean to suggest it’s not awful … but there are just all these dreadful things that have happened,” she told Tony Jones, filling in for Neil Mitchell.

“There are just so many examples, I think, of years that are more deadly and create more human suffering and uncertainty than 2020.”

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