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.
First, I buy anything read by Garrett Whitener. Just listening to him read regardless of the text is a joy. As far as this particular book goes, it's all in the inifinite details. There is a theory about the large sweep of history but you have to see it yourself (although it is revealed at the end in case you didn't see it). If you don't like details this isn't the book for you. I've gone back many times to listen in particular to the chapter on the flea itself and the life cycle of the Black Plague vector. I can certainly understand that reviews of the book are binary - you like it a lot or you don't a lot. I like it a lot - a whole lot.
I suppose Justinian's wife although Whitener does Roman generals beautifully too.
If you don't like this book I recommend you look for others read by Whitener that you may like. He is the all time best reader in my opinion and he does read books of many different genre.
Popular history should combine scholarly detail and diverting anecdote while making it clear which is which. The book accomplishes this very well. My only quibble is that, while the author deals with the plague in historical and biological depth, it is not the major focus of the book - which is really an overview of Justinian's reign and accomplishments.
I had a hard time getting to the end of this. Towards the middle of the second half of book two I decided life was too short to listen to the anatomy of different bacterium, etc. I have a headache.
This book is WAY... too detailed. The narrative gets lost time and again. Some sections are incredibly boring. I think the author is just trying to show how much he knows.
I love history and looked forward listening to this story. The title was intriguing. Then the reality hit me: deadly boring. The writer tries to cramp whole centuries in one story and the narrator just spouts fact, figures, names, and places in a monotonous toon. After the first 40 minutes, I tried skipping forward in the hope to reach the real flea story. Didn't happen. This is the first book, of my 240 books, that I didn't finish. Not worth my money.
First, listen to a sample, I wish I had. If this narrator doesn't put you to sleep then you have a serious case of insomnia. I suppose in some ways his voice does fit the book, tedious, and profoundly uninteresting. I love history, I read/listen to history books often, quite often. I have never stopped listening to one because I just couldn't take it anymore, at least not until now. If you are interested in Justinian, or the effects of the plague, find a book that actually talks about them. This book is not among those that do. As for the narrator somebody please buy this guy an inflection (and frankly, yes, I could do it better, much better). As Monty Python once put it so well.."run away..run away."
the book itself seemed interesting but the narrator was so flat and boring as to make it unlistinable. A complete waste, I reallly wouldn't recommend it.
I had great expectations of learning anout the history of Europe and the impact of the plague, just as promised in the description..unfortunately, the most interesting connections were made in the short epilogue while the rest of the book was more an endless summary of what roman emperor, general, etc. did what when and how long....maybe I was expecting the wrong thing...this was a tough one to finish, not helped by the reader who has the most monotone voice and did not help convey enthusiasm for the story....
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