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.
71 year old avid reader using either my eyes or ears. I make earrings that I donate to shelters and while I work, I listen to wonderful books. I also keep in mind that you have to kiss frogs to find princes - time's too short to bother with losers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it was more a history of the world from 100 CE to 600 CE than a history of the plague (as a disease), but well told and informative none the less.
If ancient history is your bag, this is for you.
The material was interesting. It provided a good overview of the Eastern Roman Empire, but seemed to lose focus in a discussion of church architecture a little before the half-way point. Then the author launched into a fascinating discussion of the causes, mechanisms, and effect of the plague.
The reader is a little flat in his presentation. It takes some getting used to, but after that it is acceptable. I enjoyed the book, but listen to the sample before buying.
This was an interesting book, but the narration was extremely dry. I would give the text a 4 out of five, but the narration drops it down to a 3.
The narrator's monotonic delivery is absurd.
Make certain that you listen to a sample before buying. The content is detailed and very interesting, but the narrator should look into coaching. It is at times difficult to determine when a sentence ends...the reader was very off putting.
Lots of information, but the authors digress constantly. The irrelevant details get in the way of understanding the big picture. Also, the audio book is poorly edited. Several sections have 10-15 seconds of repeated text. Summary: a very interesting subject, but the editor should be fired.
I've just finished listening to this book a second time. It is a most impressive exposition of the fascinatingly complex bio-psycho-socio-political events of late (Roman) antiquity. Already having a more than passing acquaintance with this historical period helps in following the author's masterful weaving of those many threads.
Picture this. In the 6th century AD, the Emperor Justinian decides to re-conquer what had been the fullest extent of the Roman Empire from his base in Constantinople. He sends an underequipped general, Belisarius, on this mission.
Through guile and tactical genius, Belisarius regains the Roman Empire beating every enemy he faces: Vandals, Goths, and Gauls. North Africa, Italy, the Levant, and parts or modern day Europe are re-conquered. This accomplished, the newly conquered empire could have been the modern colossus governed under a newly codified set of laws sponsored by Justinian.
Unfortunately, Constantinople and the rest of the empire suffer from a plague that kills 25,000.000 people (a very large percentage of the world’s population at the time) and continues to kill in subsequent years.
Immune from the plague are the isolated tribes of Arabs who come under the sway of a merchant, Mohamed, who preaches a new religion that features jihad. The newly conquered territories cannot be held by Byzantium and the effects of the plague have effectively shaped the modern world.
The book is complex and the narrator does the best he can but the story can be followed.
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.
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