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.
©2007 William Rosen; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
This is an insightful and entertaining history of the plague mixed with an insightful telling of the history of Justinian. I think of it as the unexpected intersection of biology and politics. Both are covered in fascinating and always entertaining detail. The author has clearly mastered his subject and he relates his insights with ease and wit.
This is one of those books that I mark as a must to re-listen.
Although I expected a boring narrative about the plague, this is a far better than expected execution to a fairly straight forward topic, instead of a narrowed down analysis to the plague of 540 ad, the book gave us the whole contextual narrative, the after effects, the long term impact and microorganic history. I am pleased with the execution; The author has managed to make the book interesting.
Avid history and fiction/non-fiction fan.
This is not a book about the plague, but more, a book about how the plague impacted Roman history until the empire's final end. The author gives incredible detail to the stories behind the actions which brought Y.Pestus to Roman shores. Even if the reader has only a slight knowledge of late Roman history, they will be well supported in their understanding. A good read for the history and plague buff.
This is the worst reader I have come across in the many years I have been purchasing audible books!
Avoid him at all costs.
Read the book in hard copy, it was interesting.
. . . but oh my, the narration. Sounds like some sort of smoking cessation tape you put on before falling asleep. At first I thought I'd never make it through to the end. After a half hour, or so, you can get used to the narrator and start enjoying the book. No doubt a 4 to 5 star book, in written form.
Anyone who will not be lulled into sleep by a robot?
If it is not read by a machine.
Is it possible to not be distracted by a robot?
I have no idea since the robot almost lulled me into sleep.
Audible should not have any books read by robots.
Rosen goes to extreme lengths to prove that the plague has dramatic impact on the fall of Rome and the subsequent rise of European nation states. I enjoyed the read; however, in classic Rosen fashion, his overall thesis and argument is lost throughout his tangents.
The story itself is great and Rosen seems to have written a very complete narrative about the reign of Justinian and the effects of the plague on Rome. Whitener is so absolutely boring and monotone that he makes listening to a good story difficult to say the least.
Linear Historical Briefing
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire - Outline of History - The Fabric of the Cosmos,because it provides a living, breathing story of Goths, Huns, Romans in a linear story with the precision of a Physicist peeling the mystery of the Universe - from string to that other unseen, a Multiverse.
He knew the story, spoke the language, gave the feel of excitement of a scale of battle we rarely if ever have known, intrigue, and human suffering living in bacterium in the gut of a flea riding the rat from Egypt to every boat, barn and castle across the Roman Empire.
No... maybe respect. Lots of respect and a well done with the weaving of a great unseeable disaster into a story that should teach us what to expect - when we least expect - and to wake up to what we are; as Richard Dawkins wrote, 'self replicating molecules that accumulated survival machines and were emancipated by language... and now we realize we are vulnerable to other self replicating machines... Asimov said it best; We are matter contemplating itself.
Good story, well told, worth the time to listen and learn from that parallel universe we call The Roman Empire; they were us in another time.
There are those books that simply do not lend themselves to being audio books, this is one of them. Page after page after page on the internal workings of a flea and the bacterium that inhabit its stomach are actually fascinating but the information is so heavy that one need be able to flip back and review earlier pages; indeed a few bookmarks would be helpful. With an audio book this is extremely difficult.
The hard copy of the book has several maps which are useful, something which again one loses in the audio format.
Further, the litany of names and places that are necessary in this volume are made easier to remember, in the hard copy, through the presence of an index; without one it is easy to get lost. I found myself need to relistening to several chapters in an effort to ensure the correct placement of personages and places.
Given the above I would not recommend this book. Read it by all means but do not listen to it.
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