9780670038558 / 0670038555

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


Publisher:Viking Adult



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About the book:

A richly told story of the collision between natures smallest organism and historys mightiest empire

The Emperor Justinian reunified Romes 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 worlds most beautiful building, married its most powerful empress, and wrote its most enduring legal code, seemingly restoring Romes fortunes for the next five hundred years. 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.

In Justinians Flea, William Rosen tells the story of historys first pandemica 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 Kellys The Great Mortality, John Barrys The Great Influenza, and Jared Diamonds Collapse.

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