From the tide taken at the flood in Athens to its lowest ebb in Constantinople two studies covering 1,000 years of the eastern Mediterranean.


There were battleships five centuries before Christ and they helped build and perpetuate a unified western civilization that would last until five centuries after His crucifixion. It would be brought to its lowest point by a flea – and the plague it caused. Each of these books covers a different episode at opposite ends of the timeline but by reading both you will come away with an idea of what the eastern Mediterranean was at its best.

Lords of the sea : the epic story of the Athenian navy and the birth of democracy New York : Viking, 2009      John R. Hale Athens (Greece)  History, Naval Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing.     xxxiii, 395 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 341-374) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A stirring history of the world’s first dominant navy and the towering empire it built

The navy created by the people of Athens in ancient Greece was one of the finest fighting forces in the history of the world and the model for all other national navies to come. The Athenian navy built a civilization, empowered the world’s first democracy, and led a band of ordinary citizens on a voyage of discovery that altered the course of history. Its defeat of the Persian fleet at Salamis in 480 BCE launched the Athenian Golden Age and preserved Greek freedom and culture for centuries. With Lords of the Sea, renowned archaeologist John Hale presents, for the first time, the definitive history of the epic battles, the indomitable ships, and the men — from extraordinary leaders to seductive rogues — who established Athens’s supremacy. With a scholar’s insight and a storyteller’s flair, Hale takes us on an illustrated tour of the heroes and their turbulent careers and far-flung expeditions and brings back to light a forgotten maritime empire and its majestic legacy.

Justinian’s flea : plague, empire, and the birth of Europe New York : Viking, 2007      William Rosen Byzantine Empire  History  Justinian I, 527-565 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 367 p. : maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 329-349) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

A richly told story of the collision between nature’s smallest organism and history’s mightiest empire

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. 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 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 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 microbiology, economics, military strategy, ecology, and ancient and modern medicine, Rosen offers a sweeping narrative of one of the great hinge moments in history.

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