Simon Sebag Montefiore - Jerusalem- The Biography

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Simon Sebag Montefiore - Jerusalem: The Biography

V6, Unabridged, Read by John Lee

Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgment Day and the battlefield of todayΓÇÖs clash of civilizations. From King David to the 21st century, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism, and coexistence. In this masterful narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore brings the holy city to life, through the people who created and destroyed itΓÇöfrom Herod, Cleopatra and Nero to Churchill, Rasputin and TrumanΓÇöand draws on the latest scholarship, his own family history, and a lifetime of study to show that the story of Jerusalem is truly the story of the world. 

Winner of the 2011 National Jewish Book Award for Book of the Year

Publishers Weekly
Popular historian Montefiore (Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar) presents a panoramic narrative of Jerusalem, organized chronologically and delivered with magisterial flair. Spanning eras from King David to modern Israel with rich anecdotes and vivid detail, this exceptional volume portrays the personalities and worldviews of the dynasties and families that shaped the city throughout its 3,000-year history. Montefiore explains how religious and political influences created the cityΓÇÖs character, while fostering its stature as a center of the Western religious world. He effectively demonstrates how political necessity stimulated and inspired religious devotion and how the portrayal of Jerusalem as a holy city sacred to three religions is relatively recent. Chapters are organized by epochs: Judaism, paganism, Christianity, Islam, Crusade, Mamluk, empire, and Zionism, with the body of the book ending with the Six-Day War. A balanced epilogue considers Jerusalem in the context of recent events. Drawing upon archival materials, archeological findings, recent scholarship, and his own familyΓÇÖs papers (he is descended from the 19th-century Jewish leader Moses Montefiore), Montefiore delivers JerusalemΓÇÖs unfolding story as epic panorama and nuanced documentary history, suitable for general and scholarly audiences.

Kirkus Reviews
The sanguinary story of thousands of years of conflict in the home city of religions.

Perhaps it's impossible to write disinterested history, but Montefiore (Young Stalin, 2007, etc.) endeavors to do soΓÇöand largely succeeds. The author sees Jerusalem not just as the setting for some of history's most savage violenceΓÇösome of the butchery makes Titus Andronicus look like a Sesame Street segmentΓÇöbut a microcosm of our world. Our inability to achieve sustained peace there is emblematic of our failures around the globe. Montefiore begins in 70 CE with the assault of the Roman leader Titus (not Andronicus) on Jerusalem, an attack featuring thousands of crucifixions of JewsΓÇönot to mention eviscerations to extract from the bowels of the victims the valuables they'd swallowed. The author then retreats to the age of the biblical David, and away we go, sprinting through millennia, pausing only for necessary explanations of politics, religion, warfare and various intrigues. The story is horribly complex, and Montefiore struggles mightily to make everything clear as well as compelling, but the vast forest of names, places, events sometimes thoroughly conceals some small treasure at its heart. Still, the history is here: Nebuchadnezzar, the Herods, Alexander the Great, Jesus, Pilate, Caligula, Paul, Titus, Justinian, the Arabs and the Muslims, the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, Suleiman, Ottomans, Napoleon, Disraeli, Lawrence of Arabia, Zionism. There are even some guest appearances by Thackeray, Twain and Melville. Suddenly, we are in the 20th century, and only the names and the killing technology have changed. The author ends with the 1967 Six-Day War and with some speculations about the future.

An essential text, bathed in blood, lit with faint hope.		
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