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

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Penguin, 2007 - History - 367 pages
16 Reviews
A richly told story of the collision between nature’s smallest organism and history’s mightiest empire

The Emperor Justinian 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 for the next five hundred years. 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.

In Justinian’s Flea, William Rosen tells the story 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 a path of victims from Ireland to Iraq, and opened the way for the armies of Islam. Weaving together evolutionary microbiology, economics, military strategy, ecology, and ancient and modern medicine, Rosen offers a sweeping narrative of one of the great hinge moments in history, one that will appeal to readers of John Kelly’s The Great Mortality, John Barry’s The Great Influenza, and Jared Diamond’s Collapse.
 

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LibraryThing Review

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

LibraryThing Review

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

Contents

The Three ThousandBody Problem
1
Pelusium 540
9
Four Princes of the World 286470
15
Boundaries of the Roman Empire
18
We Do Not Love Anything Uncivilized 337518
37
Our Most Pious Consort 518530
64
Solomon I Have Outdone Thee 530537
91
City of Constantinople 71
92
The Victories Granted Us by Heaven 533540
134
Daughter of Chance and Number
167
From So Simple a Beginning
185
The Fury of the Wrath of God 540542
198
A Man of Unruly Mind 523545
227
The Silk Road
301
Acknowledgments
327
Bibliographical Note
347

Live Honorably Harm Nobody
119

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About the author (2007)

William Rosen was an editor and publisher for more than twenty-five years.

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