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Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe (2007)

Tekijä: William Rosen

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
9984020,969 (3.67)142
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.… (lisätietoja)
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 40) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
This is a good telling of Emperor Justinian's reign at the end of the Roman era. But . . .
I'm peeved by the title: 'Justinian's Flea' suggested to me a book about the plague and how it affected Justinian's time as Emperor, but the book is really a history of the Roman empire during Justinian's rule. The plague is merely a bit part in that telling. I was going to blame the publishers for tarting up a bland history with a nifty title, until I found that the author is not a professional historian, and his first career was in publishing!
But I still enjoyed the book. I learned more than I ever expected to know about the very late stages of the Roman Empire. The author gives life to key players, while not going too far past the limited source documentary evidence. ( )
  mbmackay | May 4, 2024 |
Packed with historical background, this is a heavy history lesson connecting the politics of the fading Roman Empire with the earliest documented pandemic of Y. pestis. ( )
  HMBLVJ | Apr 21, 2024 |
I feel that I have been fleeced by the ole bait & switch! I thought the book would be about the plague under Justinian's rule in AD 500-600's. Instead, I got a massive sweeping history of Byzantium, clear through WWI! This was a monumental task and not done well IMHO. It is rambling and there is no clear thesis. The author jumps from topic to topic and some of them I can not even connect to yersinia pestis, which had 15 pages dedicated to its evolution. I was 200 pages into the book (6 chapters) before the lil flea was introduced. And that was it--just one chapter. The remaining chapters dealt with how the flea helped to cause the downfall of Byzantium and also how it helped to rebuild Europe. I wanted pestilence and disease and misery and suffering! What I got was a scientific/historical treatise of 300 years of history and some of it so specialized that I had never even heard of it before--and I'm a history prof. (Sasanian Empire) This seems like it could be a book of separate historical essays that are only lightly connected. I read about the architecture of the Sophia Hagia as well as the yaka (?) timber used to build it; the entire chapter! I read about the Sub Atlantic Climate Change in Rome from about AD 100-750. I "think" the premise of the book was that all these things had to work together to create the perfect storm for the flea to evolve and wreak its havoc. I'm a simple woman with simple needs, I wanted more FLEA! 364 pages ( )
  Tess_W | Mar 4, 2024 |
A lively re-telling of the real transition from Late Antiquity into the medieval world in the days of Justinian.

The author vividly tells the story of how the Roman Empire got to the point of having Justinian as Emperor; he describes the situation by which Justinian ascended to the purple and then the exploits of the early part of his reign. Africa and Italy are recovered for the Empire; things seem to be going well for the Empire.

Yet, as indicated from the beginning, a plague is on the horizon. The author also describes what was known at his time regarding the development of Y. pestis and what it did to people. He then described how the plague overtook the Roman Empire and the devastation it wrought. The epilogue considers the later battle at Yarmuk between Heraclius' forces and the Muslim invaders and how the Empire lost most of its territory, and its ancient heart, in no small part as an effect of the plague.

The historical narrative here is generally excellent, but its pathogenesis and discussion of the plague itself could use some updating; Kyle Harper spends a lot of time talking about what we have learned about the plague since, and agrees about the devastation and import of the black plague. The role of the ferret, the newest and best theory of the real catalyst for black death outbreaks, is not really manifest here.

A great narrative which could use a refresh/update for the 2020s. ( )
  deusvitae | May 31, 2023 |
Interesting, but not the easiest read. Rosen's writing style includes lots of asides and parenthetical statements, which doesn't always flow well. I learned a lot of history about the end of the Roman Empire and the beginning of modern European countries that I did not know. ( )
  atozgrl | Dec 19, 2022 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 40) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
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» Lisää muita tekijöitä (1 mahdollinen)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
William Rosenensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Whitener, BarrettKertojamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
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The two greatest problems in history are how to account for the rise of Rome, and how to account for her fall.
—Ernest Renan
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For Jeanine
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The law of gravitation discovered in the seventeenth century by Isaac Newton states that two bodies attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the centers of the bodies' mass, and inversely proportional to the square of the length of a straight line separating one from the other.
By the middle of the sixth century Pelusium was more than a thousand years old, a fortress town built at the mouth of the easternmost branch of the Nile by the Persians on the site of their victory over the Egyptians in 525 B.C.E.
The Balkan hill town of Tauresium appears on no modern atlas, and was almost certainly absent from maps that were in use during the centuries that modern historians call late antiquity.
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"Rarely in history has a great conqueror showed less interest in visiting his conquests...and, indeed, why would he? He had Constantinople."
Laws do for the business of life what medicine does for diseases; consequently the effect is often the opposite of that intended. - Emperor Justinian I
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

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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