Jerusalem: The Biography

Simon Sebag Montefiore

Jerusalem: The Biography

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 today's clash of civilisations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of 3,000 years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence. How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the 'centre of the world' and now the key to peace in the Middle East? Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. 4.4 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
Jerusalem: The Biography

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History
Format Hardback
Pages 696
RRP £25.00
Date of Publication January 2011
ISBN 978-0297852650
Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson
 

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 today's clash of civilisations. From King David to Barack Obama, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of 3,000 years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence. How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the 'centre of the world' and now the key to peace in the Middle East? Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life.

Reviews

The Sunday Telegraph

Tom Holland

His achievement, in fashioning a fluent narrative out of such daunting material, can hardly be praised enough … [A] marvellous book

23/01/2011

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The Times

Michael Gove

As the descendant of one of the most distinguished Jewish families to have helped shape Jerusalem, Simon Sebag Montefiore has a very personal stake in the city’s future. But as a writer of broad human sympathies with a determination to see the past in the round, he manages to construct a history that no fair-minded reader can conclude is anything other than judicious, nuanced, balanced and sensitive.

22/01/2011

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The Independent on Sunday

Dan Jones

Quite probably there will be quibbles for fanatics of all persuasions. Writing a history of such a topic is, in a sense, asking for trouble. That's Jerusalem. But it's hard to imagine a more comprehensive, sensible and engaging attempt than this.

16/01/2011

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The Sunday Times

Christopher Hart

Along with Nebuchadnezzar and Caligula, Herod and Cleopatra, Suleiman, Napoleon and Lawrence of Arabia, there is rich human colour and comedy in the minor characters, too … [There are] one or two errors … Nevertheless this is a fittingly vast and dazzling portrait of Jerusalem, utterly compelling from start to finish.

23/01/2011

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The Guardian

Antony Beevor

Montefiore's narrative is remarkably objective when considering his own family's close links with Jewish Jerusalem. One might quibble with certain details, but overall it is a reliable and compelling account, with many interesting points.

29/01/2011

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The Observer

Jonathan Beckman

Jerusalem is a city of the imagination, an inspiration for religious sects from the Pilgrim Fathers to the Rastafarians, as well as hundreds of artists and writers. Sebag Montefiore barely touches on this aspect, although, unsurprisingly for the author of superb works on Catherine the Great and Stalin, he writes excellently on the reactionary clericalism of the 19th-century Russian tsars, who idealised Jerusalem even to the point of fighting the Crimean War over it. Nonetheless, this is compendious and fleet-footed history of a city where the glorification of God has always been built on bloodied soil.

16/01/2011

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The Daily Telegraph

Munro Price

Compelling and thought-provoking … Working on an immense chronological and thematic canvas, Sebag Montefiore does his subject more than justice. He narrates the terrible history of Jerusalem vividly and graphically. Indeed, the bloodletting described is so horrendous that one wonders whether the Apocalypse, if and when it comes, could improve on it.

22/01/2011

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The Independent

Barnaby Rogerson

Sebag Montefiore's own family occupies a distinguished place (alongside the Rothschilds) as one of the aristocratic British Jewish dynasties whose patronage in the 19th century established the first foundations of modern Israel. His own experience, as an emotionally involved historian, helps him sympathise with the chroniclers of the past, be they Josephus, William of Tyre or Usamah bin Munqidh. And that's where I would put this book, right beside Josephus's Jewish Wars: vivid, compelling, engaged, engrossing, knowledgeable — but partial.

21/01/2011

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