×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

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

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

3.7 2
by William Rosen
 

See All Formats & Editions

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. At his capital in 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

Overview

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. At his capital in 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 500 years. Then, in the summer of 542, he encountered a flea. The ensuing outbreak of bubonic plague killed 5,000 people a day in Constantinople and nearly killed Justinian himself.

Weaving together evolutionary microbiology, economics, military strategy, ecology, and ancient and modern medicine, William 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

What might be called "microbial history"—the study of the impact of disease on human events—is a subject that has received great attention in recent years. Rosen's new book follows John Barry's The Great Influenza and John Kelly's The Great Mortality.An editor and publisher for more than a quarter century, Rosen absorbingly narrates the story of how the Byzantine Empire encountered the dangerous Y. pestis in A.D. 542 and suffered a bubonic plague pandemic foreshadowing its more famous successor eight centuries later. Killing 25 million people and depressing the birth rate and economic growth for many generations, this unfortunate collision of bacterium and man would mark the end of antiquity and help usher in the Dark Ages. Rosen is particularly illuminating and imaginative on the "macro" aftereffects of the plague. Thus, the "shock of the plague" would remake the political map north of the Alps by drawing power away from the Mediterranean and Byzantine worlds toward what would become France, Germany and England. Specialist historians may certainly dislike the inevitable reductionism such a broad-brush approach entails, but readers of Collapse and Guns, Germs, and Steel,Jared Diamond's grand narratives, will find this a welcome addendum. (May 14)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670038558
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/03/2007
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.54(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
William Rosen doesn«t just give us the most believable, the most human and the most fully rounded Justinian ever. He also conjures up a vivid picture of the age, in a compelling style that makes his weighty learning light. (Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, author of Millennium and Civilizations)
Karl Sabbagh
Justinian's Flea is narrative history writing at its best. Breathtaking in its scope, the book presents a confident mix of history, science, architecture, theology, military strategy, law, engineering and medicine to tell the story of how plague transformed the classical world and gave birth to mediaeval Europe. William Rosen's canvas stretches from China to Spain, and Britain to Arabia, and his intriguing cast of characters includes emperors, priests, soldiers, and engineers as well as rats, fleas and silkworms. Justinian's Flea transforms our understanding of many key events in the history of the last two thousand years, from the decline of Rome to the rise of Islam and beyond. (Karl Sabbagh, author of The Riemann Hypothesis: The Greatest Unsolved Problem in Mathematics and Skyscraper: The Making of a Building)
Tom Holland
We live at a time when the Pope's quotation of a Byzantine emperor can cause an international incident. William Rosen's fascinating new book offers a timely portrait of the greatest Byzantine emperor of them all - and explains, in compelling detail, how the golden age of Constantinople was blotted out by a catastrophe as momentous as any in history. (Tom Holland, author of Rubicon)
John Kelly
An engrossing and insightful account of one of the most important but little known medical disasters in human history. (John Kelly, author of The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time)

Meet the Author

William Rosen was an editor and publisher at Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and the Free Press for more than twenty-five years.

Barrett Whitener has won half a dozen coveted AudioFile Earphones Awards for his audiobook narration.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Justinian's Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing detail. I loved it. Looked like you took your time. WAY TOO SHORT THOUGH! Make the story about seven pages and grab the readers attention with every sentence. Otherwise its almost awesome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first half of the book is a fascinating tale of how the incalculable facets of life during the late Roman empire all lead to the formation of Europe as we know it today. War, politics, religion -- it¿s all here. I found the sections about how Christianity orthodoxy was created particularly interesting. Unfortunately, for as good as the first half was, I found the second half tedious and in some parts painful. I had to muscle through Rosen¿s excruciatingly detailed description of how the Hagia Sophia was constructed and the evolution of the bacteria that causes the plague. Some will no doubt find these sections remarkable, but they simply held no appeal to me. Still, I¿d say Rosen did a pretty good job of providing a fairly comprehensive history of the time period and can recommend the book.