A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

by William J. Bernstein
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According to A Splendid Exchange, what was unique about the black rat that made it such a crucial player in the proliferation of the plague? Splendid Exchange Chapter 6 The disease of Trade A.P. World History

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Bernstein argues that the black rat was a perfect animal for spreading the fleas that carried the bubonic plague.  There are a number of reasons for this.  First, the black rat tends to live in places near people.  This means that the fleas will be able to go from rat...

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Bernstein argues that the black rat was a perfect animal for spreading the fleas that carried the bubonic plague.  There are a number of reasons for this.  First, the black rat tends to live in places near people.  This means that the fleas will be able to go from rat to human quite easily.  Second, black rats are excellent at climbing.  This enabled them to climb quite easily into things like ships that allowed them to spread across Eurasia, bringing the fleas to people across the land mass.  Because it had these traits, Bernstein argues, the black rat was perfect for spreading the Black Death.

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