Interesting but ultimately disappointing history of the Roman Empire during Emperor Justinian's reign in the 6th century. I was drawn to this book bec...moreInteresting but ultimately disappointing history of the Roman Empire during Emperor Justinian's reign in the 6th century. I was drawn to this book because I really knew little about the pre medieval political map of the Empire except that it had moved its focus and capitol east to Asia Minor. It did fill in some of the blank areas although I did get lost in the names of all the different non Roman groups, places and cities and the religious schools of thought which were the source of conflict and political unrest in Justinian's domain.
My problem with the book was what I felt was a meandering away from the main premise which was that the outbreaks of plague weakened both the western and eastern empires so much that it enabled the subsequent conquest of the southern Mediterranean, basically today's middle east, by the armies of Islam. The author spends a lot of time arguing and explaining early church doctrinal differences; his own bias clearly in evidence by his overuse of hyperbole in the first half of the book. Similarly he goes into great scientific detail in describing the evolution and genesis of the epidemiology of the plague which was fascinating, even pinpointing the time and place of the initial outbreak but then only painting broad strokes on breakouts and timelines over the next 20+ years.
I could not help but compare his history to Geraldine Brooks' treatment of the same subject almost ten centuries later in "Years of Wonder". Admittedly the latter covers a much smaller geographic space and time. But it seemed to me "Justinian's Flea" spent to much time on prologue and afterward and not enough time on the premise.
This memoir is as much about the history of the Congo as it is about a refuge for this most uncommon species of chimp like apes.
Ms. Woods comes to the...moreThis memoir is as much about the history of the Congo as it is about a refuge for this most uncommon species of chimp like apes.
Ms. Woods comes to the Congo almost by accident; she is accompanying her boyfriend whose passion is primate research. But her experiences with theses peaceful, social, intelligent Bonobos changes her life forever. Protecting and observing them becomes a way of life. The difficulties of living in strife torn, rural Congo, are discussed without sentimentality as are the horrors human beings subject each other to. The history of Congo from precolonial times to the present helps illuminate the savagry of the conflict and the peril of this species which lives nowhere else.
I listened to this book on CD. The readers thick Australian accent gave the narrative a unique, personal spin.
This books takes information that might take several pages to explain and distills them down to one or two page charts, graphs, illustrations or other...moreThis books takes information that might take several pages to explain and distills them down to one or two page charts, graphs, illustrations or other visual representations in a fun and concise manner.
Colorful and imaginative with references to source material, it is less than an almanac but more than a book of trivia. A feast for the eyes and mind! . (less)