Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire and the Birth of Europe

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Pimlico, 2008 - Byzantine Empire - 367 pages
Weaving together evolutionary microbiology, economics, military strategy, ecology, and ancient and modern medicine, author Rosen tells of history's first pandemic--a plague seven centuries before the Black Death that killed tens of millions, devastated the empires of Persia and Rome, left victims from Ireland to Iraq, and opened the way for the armies of Islam. Emperor Justinian had reunified Rome's fractured empire by defeating the Goths and Vandals who had separated Italy, Spain, and North Africa from imperial rule. In his capital at Constantinople he built the world's most beautiful building, married its most powerful empress, and wrote its most enduring legal code, seemingly restoring Rome's fortunes. Then, in the summer of 542, he encountered a flea. The ensuing outbreak of bubonic plague killed five thousand people a day in Constantinople and nearly killed Justinian himself, bringing about one of the great hinge moments in history.--From publisher description.

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User Review  - Farree - LibraryThing

I have been putting off reading this since August 15, 2015 (or so), because I wanted a little more coverage of the Roman Empire (and I don't currently have Gibbon in my library). I got that earlier ... Read full review

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User Review  - pbjwelch - LibraryThing

The book's flaws (and successes) have been covered by many former reviewers so let me add just a few notes that may be of interest to someone at some time: For anyone who slept through their world ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

William Rosen was a senior executive at Macmillan and Simon & Schuster publishing houses for more than twenty-five years, working with authors including Bernard Lewis, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Philip Craig and Tim Clayton, Marina Benjamin, and Robert Lacey. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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