Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgement Day and the battlefield of today’s clash of civilizations. 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 three thousand years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism and coexistence.
How did this small, remote town become the Holy City, the “center of the world” and now the key to peace in the Middle East? In a gripping narrative, Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals this ever-changing city in its many incarnations, bringing every epoch and character blazingly to life. Jerusalem’s biography is told through the wars, love affairs and revelations of the men and women - kings, empresses, prophets, poets, saints, conquerors and whores - who created, destroyed, chronicled and believed in Jerusalem. As well as the many ordinary Jerusalemites who have left their mark on the city, its cast varies from Solomon, Saladin and Suleiman the Magnificent to Cleopatra, Caligula and Churchill; from Abraham to Jesus and Muhammad; from the ancient world of Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Herod and Nero to the modern times of the Kaiser, Disraeli, Mark Twain, Lincoln, Rasputin, Lawrence of Arabia and Moshe Dayan.
Drawing on new archives, current scholarship, his own family papers and a lifetime’s study, Montefiore illuminates the essence of sanctity and mysticism, identity and empire in a unique chronicle of the city that many believe will be the setting for the Apocalypse. This is how Jerusalem became Jerusalem, and the only city that exists twice - in heaven and on earth.
©2011 Simon Sebag Montefiore (P)2011 Random House Audio
“Magnificent . . . The city’s first ‘biography’—a panoptic narrative of its rulers and citizens, heroes and villains, harlots and saints . . . Montefiore barely misses a trick or a character in taking us through the city’s story with compelling, breathless tension.” (Norman Lebrecht, Wall Street Journal)
“Impossible to put down . . . A vastly enjoyable chronicle [with] many fascinating asides . . . Montefiore has a fine eye for the telling detail, and also a powerful feel for a good story.” (Jonathan Rosen, New York Times Book Review)
“Magisterial . . . As a writer, Montefiore has an elegant turn of phrase and an unerring ear for the anecdote that will cut to the heart of a story . . . It is this kind of detail that makes Jerusalem a particular joy to read.” (The Economist)
Mesmerizing. Masterfully compiled, tastefully auditioned. The story is gripping and full of important history facts and interesting trivia nuggets along the way. Last sections show a clear bias as was expected from any human author of a certain background. Overall, amazing experience. Highly recommended for those interested in current Middle East political mess.
Great book for people who don't know much about the history of Jerusalem or it's peoples recommend it to anybody who wants a overview of the whole situation
A good companion for a visit to Jerusalem. Keeping track of the actors is challenging at times. Puts contemporary events into perspective.
This book really covers the history in such a way that it really allows you to fit the events into histories you may already know. It was compelling and enjoyable. One issue I have is that there are frequent digs on the Bible, making critiques of its content without providing examples. More disturbing is that it would seem the author has not actually read the Bible he cites so frequently. Sometimes the statements about what the Bible says are blatantly false. (Ie:Judas did not invest the silver earned from betraying Christ as this book claims. One cannot even deduce that as a possibility) such falsehoods do make one wonder what other "facts" he presented were not verified.
Nonetheless-it's still a good book.
Maybe I shouldn't have experienced a more academic historical view of Jerusalem, but it hardly seems wise to base the early history exclusively on the fables from the Bible and Torah.
Some scholarship and research could have helped to explain to a listener what we understand the old city was like from excavations and research and not just paraphrased the old testament and call it a job well done.
The later half was much better researched and balanced, and the modern period was very enlightening.
The litany of characters seemed to promote a rational flow of history while attempting to downplay the Judeo-Christian heritage that underpins the spiritual & timeless reality that keeps Jerusalem in the middle of everything.
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